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Brexit ‘chaos’ unnecessary

Comment & Opinion

WITHOUT A PADDLE The UK parliament’s inability to unite and come up with a workable Brexit strategy has left the process in limbo.

THE Brexit saga has been an unmitigated disaster. From any political perspective there will be no longterm winners. From a public relations viewpoint, it has done little to give confidence in the body politic. From a global point of view, the once-Great Britain looks like a small island on the edge of Europe that refuses to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer an imperial power.
While Prime Minister Theresa May’s tenacity has to be admired, this trait is clearly not in the interest of the British people. The number of U-turns and twists she has made would suggest that party political priorities come before the greater good of the citizenry, again and again. Add in the cynicism of the confidence-and-supply arrangement with the DUP and the political mess is compounded beyond belief, beyond the ironies that pepper our history and continue to haunt us as a nation.
On a positive note – for what it is worth – the Irish Government has acted maturely throughout the whole debacle. We haven’t bowed down over the backstop. Indeed, Co Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers has executed herself admirably as we navigate through the changing narrative of this complex subject. As the Opposition’s spokeswoman on Brexit, she gave a speech in the Dáil last week on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019. She rightly noted that, as a nation, ‘we are but onlookers in this entire mess, something which we did not ask for or create but which nevertheless impacts on us heavily’.
She was correct in arguing that when you compare how our politicians are dealing with Brexit in comparison to the disunity among UK politicians, ‘you are comparing stability with chaos’.
Of course, it is a fundamental duty of our politicians to put the country’s interests first. While we all know that the present détente between the old Civil War enemies – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – is underpinned by strategy; their ability to work together to steer a steady ship in these turbulent times should, perhaps, be examined in a broader context regarding future alignments in Irish  politics.
Of course, there will always be nuanced differences in the political ideologies of these two right-of-centre parties, but as Deputy Chambers argued in the Dáil last week: “As an Oireachtas I believe we have shown incredible political maturity in uniting to navigate Brexit together and ensuring we do all we can to buffer and protect Ireland’s interests. We have at times disagreed with Government’s approach to the Brexit process, in particular the disintegration in Anglo/Irish relations, and we remain dissatisfied with the level of preparedness in the country for a potential no-deal Brexit.”
It is becoming increasingly unlikely that the UK will crash out of the EU. Most measured commentators have known this for some time. The Tory Party would not survive such a fall-out into the future. An extension of the Article 50 process now seems inevitable. Whether that   leads to the so-called soft Brexit proposed by Theresa May or to the ultimate irony of a second referendum is still a matter of conjecture.
What the whole debacle has made clear is just how dependent we are economically on the UK, particularly our agri-business sector. This, of course, is compounded by myriad other factors – and not just our fraught political past and the border with Northern Ireland. Fundamentally, this complex reality is underpinned by a cross-generational trend of emigration, played out these days in Ireland West Airport Knock every weekend.
There is no doubt that we all breathe a sigh of relief when a sensible resolution is finally found for this entirely unnecessary debacle.