I have tried for weeks to steer away from Brexit in this column – because I was absolutely certain that all sides would see sense and come to an agreement. But now, with four weeks to go, it looks like the UK could crash out of the EU with no deal agreed.
Looking in from the outside, the whole thing was absolute madness from the very start. David Cameron wanted to quieten the Eurosceptics in his own party and quell UKIP by agreeing to the referendum. The last thing that occurred to him was that the result might have been a vote to leave.
We all know the political mayhem that had happened since, particularly in the UK. The only thing that I’m clear about is that if the UK crashes out without a deal it will deeply affect us here in Ireland – and we had no hand, act or part in the whole process.
I simply cannot get my head around the fact that there are a large group of well-educated people who sit in the British Parliament who refuse to see the damage that they are doing to their own country. Then again, when you drill down and see who these people are, it probably makes some sense. The likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson are so wealthy and privileged that Brexit will not affect them one iota. In fact I’m convinced that many of these people couldn’t care less about the UK either. It’s all an ego trip for them.
Then we have the DUP holding Theresa May to ransom and keeping her in power. Anyone who watched the interview with Sammy Wilson on the Claire Byrne programme last week knows what they are like to deal with. The people of the North are going to be amongst those most affected by Brexit, yet they do not even have a Government as Sinn Fein and the DUP cannot agree to work together.
In fact Sinn Fein could have had a major impact on this whole Brexit scenario if they had set aside their self-imposed ban on taking their seats at Westminster and gone to represent the people who voted for them.
People in this country should be very worried about a no deal Brexit because I am convinced that despite the many fine words of support, the Europeans couldn’t care less about the plight of Ireland. Just this Monday there was a poll amongst Germans which revealed that Brexit was not in the top ten news topics which they are interested in. A good friend of mine is a regular visitor to Brussels and he tells me that at least nine out of every ten people there do not know or understand what the controversy is regarding the border on the island of Ireland.
Is it too much to hope that the politicians in the UK will see sense and agree to some sort of a compromise? There are just four weeks to go and the signs are certainly not good.
We have heard about the potential damage to the farming industry, the food industry and many other areas of economic activity here if the UK crashes out. I was in Dublin Airport last Friday night. In the space of just a half an hour at least 10 planes landed from various airports in the UK. Could you imagine the chaos if every person who stepped off those planes had to go through immigration checks? It’s only a small, simple thing that could happen after March the 29th. Let’s hope sanity prevails – for all our sakes. The clock is ticking.