Many along the border are losing sleep at night over the prospect of a hard frontier post-Brexit. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Ray O’Hanlon
World War I was going to be all over by Christmas. It wasn’t.
Brexit was supposed to be done and dusted by today.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
And now it’s onward, sort of, to April 12, the next stop on the less than magical mystery tour that has been the UK’s march out of Europe, now in year three and counting.
British Prime Minister Theresa May today lost in her third attempt to have parliament back the Brexit deal she had secured with the European Union.
The vote, on what was a watered down version of the deal, was 344 to 286, a majority of 58 votes against.
May had stated that she would resign as prime minister if the vote had gone in favor this time of the deal.
She might have to hang around in Number 10 a little longer.
And at least until April 12, the new March 29.
At midnight on that date, a Friday, the UK could well plunge out of the EU without any deal at all.
Following today’s vote in London the European Commission said in a statement that the EU was now “fully prepared” for a “likely” no-deal scenario at midnight on April 12. The European Commission said that it “regretted” the result of the vote.
After the vote, May said that the implications were “grave”
“I fear we are reaching the limits of the process in this House,” she said of the House of Commons.
Her words rank somewhere between gross understatement and, well, gross understatement.
To avoid a no deal exit, May might now go back to the EU and request an additional extension to the Article 50 process, the technical term for the UK’s actual bailing out of the EU.
Brexit, the tortured process leading to it, and the consequences of it, will have profound effects for Ireland with the North being dragged unwillingly through the exit door, and the Republic facing the prospect of a possible hard border on the island and another frontier between it and Britain, a crucial market for Irish exports.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that it’s up to the UK to say how it will avoid a no-deal Brexit which he said was now a “growing possibility.”
“It is now up to the UK to indicate how it plans to proceed in order to avoid a no deal scenario. The European Council has agreed unanimously that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be re-opened.”
He said that Ireland has been “preparing intensively for a no deal scenario” adding that no one should underestimate the difficulties that a no deal would present, “for all of us, including the UK.”
Mr. Varadkar added: “It is not clear that the UK has fully understood that no deal is not off the agenda. Rather, it’s a growing possibility.”
According to an Irish Independent report, the taoiseach welcomed the decision of European Council President Donald Tusk to call an emergency meeting of EU leaders on April 10, two days before the UK could crash out without a deal.
Mr. Varadkar will meet French President Emmanual Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week and will be speaking to other EU heads of government by phone.
“It is now incumbent on the UK to chart a realistic way forward for consideration at that Council meeting. I believe we must be open to a long extension should the United Kingdom decide to fundamentally reconsider its approach to Brexit and put back on the table options previously ruled out.