Friday, 13 Dec 2019

Editorial: 'Forget project Fear, what we Need is project reality'

If the British media is anywhere close to the truth, we ought to be afraid. Very afraid. And this seems to be what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson requires of us just now.

According to the UK ‘Sun’, Mr Johnson is banking on Brussels blinking at the last minute in order to prevent Ireland being in the direct line of impact when the no-deal scenario explodes.

Meanwhile, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ claims Mr Johnson has the backing of more than half of British voters to lockdown parliament to force Brexit over the line. A remarkable move by those purporting to be the upholders of democracy, but such is where we are.

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Thomas Jefferson’s warning to “leave no authority existing not responsible to the people” never seemed more pertinent nor more redundant. For good measure, Mr Johnson has also withdrawn his top diplomats from critical EU meetings on European law and policy.

This, we are given to understand, is to drive home his point to Europe’s leaders that he is indeed “serious” about storming out of the union without agreement.

We have had project fear already. ‘Project reality’, we must assume, is still a work in progress.

It is too late to dwell on how we have come to be the tethered sacrificial lamb on the battlefield, as our nearest ‘neighbour’ goes to war with the EU.

But then again, none of this is particularly neighbourly. We understand in the conduct of international affairs there are only interests.

Indeed, if maintaining relationships mattered, there would by now have been a meeting between Mr Johnson and the Taoiseach.

Not only has there not, a date has yet to be even agreed upon, or where it might take place.

And even if it did, with the demand to drop the backstop in place, there could be no agreement.

A point echoed by Tánaiste Simon Coveney yesterday when he acknowledged a meeting with Mr Johnson would be unlikely to end the impasse.

True, we have little influence over how Downing Street conducts its affairs, and clearly our concerns are keeping no one awake at night in London.

However, our own Government needs to indicate how exactly it plans to protect jobs and businesses and meet its obligations to Europe.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and every Government department are supposedly planning budgets which will impinge on all our lives, but they will be washed out the window if we are hit by a Brexit tsunami.

As we reveal today, even at this extraordinarily late hour, half of Irish businesses are still not actively planning for no deal.

A state of affairs that seems to confirm George Bernard Shaw’s contention that: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Given the enormity of what is about to take place, it seems inconceivable we should still be left with our back wheels spinning.

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