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Brexit: It’s hard to escape the feeling the end game is approaching

Inside Politics: Housing and broadband are the top issues worrying Irish voters, candidates say

Good morning,

As we draw closer to the summer, it’s hard to escape the feeling the Brexit end game may be approaching (and not a minute too soon, I hear you say).

It has been painfully obvious for a long time now that politicians across the water have found themselves in a stalemate, and have been unable to deliver on the result of that fateful referendum.

There have been years of political infighting, resignations, accusations, recriminations and still – no deal.


Our lead today details how Theresa May is trying to boldly go where no prime minister has gone before.

As part of what she says is a "bold new offer" she has offered MPs a vote on a second referendum and a customs union with the European Union if they back her deal.

May's own weakness has become an obstacle to winning a majority for the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill next month

And in an effort to win the support of the DUP and Conservative Brexiteers, she said she would find "alternative arrangements" to the backstop and to keep Northern Ireland aligned on customs and regulation with the rest of the UK.

As most readers of this digest and The Irish Times will know, these fabled "alternative arrangements" have yet to convince the Irish Government.

Far from winning her colleagues over, some Conservative Brexiteers who voted for the Withdrawal Agreement last March said they will vote against her Withdrawal Agreement Bill next month. DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said "fatal flaws" remained unchanged.

In his piece today, Denis Staunton writes that this bold new offer will probably make things worse.

He writes that the offer "includes compromises with Labour, the DUP and advocates for a second referendum that would have been unimaginable a few months ago."

He further writes that “her own weakness, in the dying weeks of her political career, has become an obstacle to winning a majority for the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill next month.

“Because nobody at Westminster believes she has a chance of success, nobody has an incentive to take a risk by supporting her.”

And that appears to be the crux of the problem.

With a leadership contest looming, and a probable general election, a resolution to Brexit may seem far off, but there is movement on the horizon at last, with potentially significant developments looming.

Keep an eye on today as May will make a statement in the Commons, a day before the UK votes in European Parliament elections, with Nigel Farage's Brexit Party expected to emerge on top.

Time is almost up

Meanwhile, back at home we are mere hours from our own local and European elections.

After hours of canvassing and running the soles of their shoes into dust, candidates will endure an anxious wait to see who emerge victorious and secure a place in local councils and in the European Parliament.

Opposition parties have seized on the issue of housing as the crisis further damages confidence in Fine Gael.

Labour and Sinn Féin, in particular, have honed in on the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy’s comments about the benefits of co-living.

In her piece, Marie O'Halloran writes that Labour leader Brendan Howlin said these homes are an "attempt to normalise cramped living conditions and erode public housing standards".

He said “we are now talking about people sharing bathrooms or having no bathrooms” and reducing standards “so that people can live on top of one another” creating the social crises of the future.

He told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: "I am convinced you don't have the will to solve it".

On the doorsteps in Dublin and surrounding counties, most if not all parties have reported that housing is the single biggest issue.

In more rural areas, the focus, we are told, is on issues such as broadband, and supports to farmers and local communities. As the campaign winds down over the coming hours, it will be telling to see what the effect of all this is when the votes are cast on Friday. A lot of what happens in the coming days will determine the course of politics for the coming months for better or worse.

In his piece today, Pat Leahy reminds us about the other issues to be decided this weekend namely the referendum on divorce and the local plebiscites in Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Read the details about what is at stake here.

Best reads

Miriam Lord at her best as she follows Prince Charles on the second day of his official visit.

Marie O'Halloran has the latest on the early budget shadow boxing.

Fiach Kelly report that Fine Gael has ordered councillors not to work with Sinn Féin after the elections.

Hold on to your hats, he's coming: Donald Trump expected to fly into Shannon on June 5th.

Dáil and Seanad

Thanks to the elections, it will be a short day in the Dáil today.

There are PQs to the Minister for Transport Shane Ross at 10.30am, Leaders Questions at noon and the Dáil adjourns just after 2.30pm.

Similiarly in the Seanad, commencement matters will be taken at 10.30am.