The British government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are the ones primarily responsible for Monday’s debacle, but the Irish Government didn’t exactly cover itself in glory.
The way Tánaiste Simon Coveney jumped the gun with a premature radio interview on Monday morning and the subsequent mood music suggesting that the Irish side had got what it wanted, even before Theresa May met Jean Claude Juncker, was tempting fate.
It didn’t take a genius to know that the one sure way to frighten the already nervous horses in the DUP and the loony Tory right was to put on a display of Green triumphalism.
To make matters worse, the response of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to the collapse of the deal was to publicly stick it to the British government insisting he was “surprised and disappointed” May had not been able to sign off on what had earlier been agreed.
This only served to put May under more pressure and fuel the paranoia of her internal critics whose ideal scenario is to see the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
The bottom line is that Ireland more than any other country needs Britain to exit the EU on the best possible terms, but the approach adopted in Dublin has the potential to push our neighbours in the other direction. [added emphasis]
The fact that all of the other parties in the Dáil rallied around to wave the green flag on Tuesday demonstrates not that the Government got it right but that it successfully pandered to populist sentiment.
Read the whole op-ed in the Irish Times. But, to be clear – and do read the whole thing – I think that, at this point, Stephen Collins is being a little over-optimistic about the outcome from Ireland’s point of view. [Wishful thinking? – Ed] Perhaps.
Of course, as President Trump will attest to, pandering to populist sentiment can pay off. At least in the short term...