David McWilliams: Ireland needs a new friend in Europe. But who?

France and Germany, or Austria and Poland? It’s a major national decision

Looking for a friend: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Brussels. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

Looking for a friend: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Brussels. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

Café Bazar in Salzburg may seem an unusual spot to consider Ireland’s future economic choices, but it could be a perfect place to start. After the British leave the EU, Ireland will need a new friend or a series of new friends within the European Union. This will involve hard choices and possibly some unpleasant trade-offs. Let’s call this challenge the Irish dilemma.

As long as the UK was in the EU, Ireland played a canny, if slightly duplicitous, game. We could appear in Brussels to be good Europeans, giggling derisively at the isolated British, safe in the knowledge that those same friendless British shared many of our interests and would therefore stand up for us.

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