Editorial: ‘Delay unlikely to help UK escape locked-in syndrome’

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Editorial: ‘Delay unlikely to help UK escape locked-in syndrome’


'Marshalling a majority within such a short window would be miraculous.' Photo: PA
‘Marshalling a majority within such a short window would be miraculous.’ Photo: PA

If Brexit was open to product placement, the makers of Botox would be ideal sponsors. Nothing has accelerated the ageing process like it.

It has lined the most youthful countenances; drilling cavernous circles around once sparkling eyes.

But with trademark optimism and the political world dissolving around her, Theresa May nonetheless sought only a “short delay” from Brussels.

What she got was a compromise; but few believe the six months granted – to sort things out – will be sufficient.

Fewer still feel that a longer delay would have made the desert bloom, given the barren thinking.

If there are any sunny uplands they can be found in the solace a crash-out looks less likely; and we can all stand down from the cliff-edge. For now…

The process has been doubly draining because, with so much time absorbed by it, so little has been spent on anything else.

When asked would six months be enough for the UK to get its act together, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar could only say he hoped so.

And yet it’s hard to see how it can be.

Only an election or second referendum can break the deadlock. And according to University College London, the time between parliament deciding to hold another referendum and the vote would be a minimum of 24 weeks. MPs would need to get their act together immediately to stage it. Marshalling a majority within such a short window would be miraculous.

Yet parliament will not allow a no deal. This suggests either a continuing stalemate, or revoking Article 50. The political equivalent of locked-in syndrome.

If the behaviour at Westminster has proven anything, it is there is no need for running to stand still when you can achieve precisely the same end by crawling.

Mrs May’s gritty resolve to stick about until Blighty can cut the painter with the EU, once and for all, may be commendable, but it looks less than likely it will be her call.

UK commentators are pretty much unanimous she is now more dodo, than phoenix.

Our own Government will also have to grin and bear it regarding any plans it may have entertained for calling an election.

The ties on the straitjacket of its Confidence and Supply arrangement with Fianna Fáil have not loosened. Brexit is as reliable as a black-hole when it comes to bending time or betting on predictable outcomes.

In Brussels, Mrs May is known to have disowned hard-line Tory Eurosceptics. She made clear the United Kingdom was a “serious” country, which would not be distracted by some non-members of her government who were trying to give the “opposite impression”.

No one doubts this. The importance of Britain as a powerhouse is not in question. But its ability to behave like one, politically, now is.

The next six months will give us an answer.

Irish Independent

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