Leading article

Britain must provide Brexit solutions


After another period of growing Brexit upheaval, taoiseach Leo Varadkar went straight to the heart of the matter when he said that the country which had created the crisis, Britain, had the primary responsibility for coming up with a solution.

Mr Varadkar, speaking in Cork on Friday, said he did not believe that the UK would ultimately crash out of the EU without a deal, but he must be as concerned as everyone else about the confused signals coming from London.

Prime minister Theresa May finally appeared ready to confront her internal Conservative opponents and push through something resembling a coherent proposal for progress at a crucial gathering of ministers at her country residence at Chequers in the south of England earlier this month.

She produced a White Paper which she insisted had the full backing of her cabinet, only for her inept Brexit secretary, David Davis, who had supposedly been leading the wider negotiations for the last two years, to resign 48 hours later, quickly followed by the departure from the Foreign Office of the ludicrous Boris Johnson.

A rattled Mrs May then appeared to cave in to the anti-EU wing of her party and accept damaging changes to the Customs Bill which was rushed through Westminster last week, before arriving in Belfast and aligning herself closely to the stridently pro-Brexit DUP.

In all the turmoil, the prime minister failed to properly address a UK Electoral Commission investigation which declared that the Vote Leave group which won the 2016 referendum by the narrowest of margins in England and Wales, but not in Scotland and Northern Ireland, had blatantly broken the law in the course of its campaign and reported two of its key figures to the police.

It had always been clear that the anti-EU side had been responsible for shocking untruths over spending on the National Health Service and immigration policies which swayed sections of the electorate on the eve of the contest, but the confirmation that it had also been involved in illegal activity should have been a defining moment.

Instead, Mrs May left a discredited outcome in place and ruled out a second referendum which would have enabled voters to give their verdict on profound changes over the customs union and the single market which were not mentioned in the form of words on the ballot paper two years ago.

She may have insisted that she is a unionist during her appearance at the Waterfront Hall last week but she has been responsible for a series of events which look increasingly likely to result in the final break-up of the United Kingdom.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Leading article

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: