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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The impossible conundrum of Brexit

For a few brief moments yesterday I genuinely thought that Theresa May had achieved the impossible and got herself a deal with the EU on how to take Brexit forward. Admittedly it was less than perfect - the concessions over Ireland were bound to produce demands for similar treatment from Wales and Scotland, subsequently undermining the stability of the UK - but it was a valiant attempt to square a difficult circle and some credit should be given for effort.

The problem of course is that May had already put herself in an impossible position through her supply and confidence agreement with the DUP. It took just one phone call from Arlene Foster to scupper any chance of a compromise being reached with the EU.

And there is our problem - the UK is effectively being held to ransom by a bunch of reactionary unionists camped out on the other side of the Irish Sea. The peace deal in Northern Ireland has been effectively wrecked, valuable resources have been diverted away from giving public sector workers a decent wage so as to pay off the DUP, and any possible deal on some of the most intractable Brexit issues is being sabotaged by Arlene's veto.

Unless Theresa May can pull a white rabbit from her hat, we are now left with the possibility of the UK Government painting itself into a corner, whereby if they are to pursue Brexit at all, then it will have to be one based on 'no deal' with the EU being reached.

That scenario will plunge the UK economy into recession as all our trading partners, old and new, impose WTO tariffs, whilst the pound falls still further adding to the cost of living woes of millions of people in this country. Wages will remain static for even longer than predicted by the Chancellor in last month's budget and thousands of jobs will relocate to the continent.

In addition, the UK will become vulnerable to the demands of global economic sharks like Trump's America and China as we go cap in hand for trade deals without any real leverage in the subsequent negotiations. All of this because of the incompetence of politicians who preached that it would be all so easy but, when it came to the crunch, were unable to deliver on their promises.

The time has come to call a halt, admit that Brexit is not in our national interest and abandon the process altogether. That is the only way we will ever get back control over our own destiny.
The DUP of course sees things differently. DUP MPs claim that it is the Republic's government which is holding the UK to ransom and needs to commit in writing to an open border. To my mind, that is equivalent to presenting Mrs May with a signed blank cheque, committing the Republic to a post-Brexit trade deal on UK terms and it is not surprising that the Taoiseach is reluctant to roll over.
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