Theresa May’s little pitch over coffee at the EU summit last night seems to have backfired. The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph although divided over a hard and a soft Brexit are united in reporting that she ” created a lot of anger.”
This from the bête noire.
Asked how talks had gone with Mrs May last night, Jean-Claude Juncker shrugged his shoulders and spluttered “Pfff”.
The European Commission president said: “We had no special event with Theresa May yesterday.
“She was explaining what her intentions are. I’ll have lunch with her and then we will see what happens.”
The Times(£) is running a scare story..
Theresa May is coming under pressure from ministers and Conservative MPs to reconsider her decision not to hold an early election amid fears that Brexit is becoming more difficult and potentially damaging.
Tories in marginal seats who rejected an early election over the summer are starting to suggest that a poll next year could be the least risky option for Mrs May. They believe it would be more dangerous to wait until 2020.
Ministers concede that key Brexit legislation may not get through the Commons. Fear is also growing that the government will lose the court case over triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty without a vote in Parliament, which would delay the start of the process of leaving the EU beyond March.
Both defeats would be likely to result in Mrs May being forced into a general election in circumstances that were not of her choosing.
There is a typically eloquent piece by Fintan O’Toole in the Guardian urging that Ireland should act as the bridge between the UK and the EU. He rightly notes with deep frustration that despite all that has happened down the centuries, Ireland north and south remains the English blind spot right under their noses, once an immediate crisis has been disposed of. (Scotland is not so different too, he might have added. One fundamental problem today is the lack of effective representation inside what is still a mainly two party system at Westminster, or anything to compensate for it adequately, but that’s a theme for another day). But does Dublin carry the weight in either London or Brussels? Let’s hope…
No one knows better than the Irish the chagrin of having your neighbours adopt a superior tone and tell you to get over your funny historic obsessions – so Ireland shouldn’t do that to England now. Instead the Irish government has to do the decent thing for all concerned, which is to try to talk its British friends down from the ledge of a hard Brexit, and to talk its European friends out of pushing Britain off that ledge.
There is still time between now and the invocation of article 50 in March 2017 to galvanise a common effort across all the polities of these islands to look for a third way between hard Brexit and no Brexit.
It is, in this, a fine model for the kind of creative reconciling of opposing impulses that could solve the English question.
The boss of PWC Ireland Fergal O’Rourke refutes the idea put forward by among others Gay Byrne and FT commentator Walter Munchau that Ireland should consider leaving the EU. No doubt that view will prevail. But O’Rourke should have given greater consideration to Ireland’s balance of trade with Britain and reminded us gently that it was the Republic not the UK that diverged the currency, first by floating the punt and then by joining the euro. The border is not all the creation of the British side.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London