Fintan O’Toole: In humiliating May, DUP killed the thing it loves

The DUP’s brinkmanship and manoeuvring have exposed Britain’s powerlessness

In a press conference on 8th December, British Prime Minister Theresa May and European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker announced that 'sufficient progress' had been made on Brexit negotiations.

It has never seemed more apt that perhaps the greatest work of English literature, William Shakespeare’s King Lear, is about the consequences of a capricious loss of authority. Lear gives up his kingdom for no good reason and everything falls horribly apart. In his madness and despair he utters the most scathing lines every written about political power: “Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar? . . . There thou mightst behold the great image of authority.”

The great image of British authority this week was Theresa May travelling to Brussels on Monday essentially as a beggar, a suppliant desperately in need of the European declaration of “sufficient progress” in the Brexit talks – and the bark of Arlene Foster peremptorily ordering the British prime minister to take back the promises she had made.

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