Ireland is guilty of its own grand Brexit delusion

Many still cling to fantasy that UK will pull back at the last minute. Don’t count on it

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable put the kibosh on Irish fantasy. Photograph: Gary O’Neill

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable put the kibosh on Irish fantasy. Photograph: Gary O’Neill

 

There is a view that the most delusional faction in the Brexit process is not, as most would see it, the noisy rump of Tory Brexiteers with their overspun ramblings about Britain re-emerging as a global superpower, but the Irish.

So convinced are we that the UK is acting irrationally – against its own best interests – that many here still cling to the notion that London will pull back at the last minute.

At an event in Dublin on Thursday hosted by employers’ group Ibec, British Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable put the kibosh on this fantasy.

He said the Tory Party – after much infighting and notwithstanding a significant anti-Brexit contingent – was now completely dominated by hardline Brexiteers, and “comfortable in its Brexit skin”: in other words, it’s past the point of turning back.

Those who believed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party could rescue the Brexit fiasco were equally mistaken.

Cable said the Labour Party was firmly in the grip of the hard-left Momentum movement, which was as anti-European as the Tories and viewed Brussels as a cabal of market-obsessed capitalists.

“As sometimes happens in politics, the extreme right and left somehow come together,” he said.

As a result, there will be no Dallas moment when Bobby emerges from the shower and the Brexit madness of the last year and a half turns out to be just a bad dream, as Ibec’s Danny McCoy put it.

Unless, Cable said, there was some massive change in public opinion, which could transform the current Westminster dynamic.

He noted that the current Brexit process was a perfect mirror image of the original process that took the UK into the European Union, or the EEC as it then was, back in 1973.

Back then London joined the bloc by parliamentary decree, a move which was later ratified by referendum. This time round the exit was initiated by referendum and later sanctioned by parliament. Either way, it seems the lady’s not for turning.