Richard Lutz sums up another whacko week.
Let’s begin with Theresa May’s visit today (Friday) to Northern Ireland. It does not stand alone in the meandering craziness of the Brexit deal. Her sojourn is just part of the historic fact that Ireland has had a huge say, directly or indirectly, in British politics from the division of the Republic and the northern counties, via the reign of sectarian terror and the still fragile peace deal to today’s EU border impasse.
The Irish border dilemma is simply insoluble. Create a crossing between the independent republic in the South (part of the EU) and the North (which leaves the EU next March) and a physical division is created on the island. Border crossings will be targets for snipers and commerce will grind to a snail’s pace between the two. Keep a ‘soft’ border and you have the ludicrous situation of an open land crossing between the EU and a post Brexit Britain though the pro-Brexit camp bellows for restrictions on immigration.
The third path is to create an internal domestic border. You can freely travel between Dublin and Belfast, let’s say, but somehow there is a control inside Britain between Belfast and southwest Scotland or Wales or all airports or….well, it simply makes no sense at all. It all ends in chaos with no one really happy.
As confusion descends into more confusion, the Republic of Ireland announced it is hiring 1,000 more border staff just in case there is a hard barrier or, as likely, there is no decision at all. A UK politician today refused to answer directly any question whether Britain is hiring equal numbers for Northern Ireland.
Of course, the shadow of Ireland hangs over the House of Commons itself where laws are made. The sectarian DUP props up the Tory minority government with its ten MPs from Northern Ireland voting with the weak government.
On the other side of the fence, the Sinn Fein, with its seven MPs, abstains on everything. With voting on Brexit very tight, these 17 MPs could change things drastically if they weren’t under the political whip of their Parliamentary leaders. Irish politics still rules in Westminster.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s own regional government, based at Stormont Castle, is more or less shut for business because the selfsame Protestant DUP and the Catholic Sinn Fein can’t sit down and figure things out. There has been no provincial government in Belfast for the past eighteen months. As a Times columnist said today about the whole tangled Anglo-Irish affair: “Time is running out to find a workable solution”.
Incidentally, a tangential red, white and blue footnote: Now that Trump has displayed his mangled childish intelligence and said he ‘mis-spoke’ to Putin, he is asking for a second session with the Russian mafia king.
In boxing, the loser always gets off the floor and demands a re-match. And that gives the winner the upper hand. I rest my case.