Like Jeff, I’ve been wondering about Donald Tusk’s oddly populist outburst. I doubt it has much to do with what he feels so much as a calculated barb at the mad dogs of Fleet Street barking. Loudly. And there’s Leo’s pally stage whisper to make sure they heard.
By contrast, Micheál Martin in his first big gig on Newsnight was there to tell the pair of them to ‘cool the jets’ and focus on the job in hand, which is to get a deal that everyone can live with:
“That kind of language is not helpful at this stage… I think it’s time for people to cool the jets”
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) February 6, 2019
I’m not so sure the intervention merits Jeff’s depth of cultural analysis. Indeed it had the fluency and charm of a pantomime double act. Not least because Tusk (whose temperament has been calmest amongst all the big EU players) is not given to such “outbursts”.
It may be okay for the likes of the honourable member for East Antrim to mix it but to say the very least it’s poor form for the President of the European Council to act in such a manner. Nor indeed the Taoiseach of Ireland.
As for hitting on the Brits, it is a line which always finds a ready audience in Ireland, which has been one of the notable conjunction between Leo and Mary Lou for much of the last year. As for the DUP, they loved it too.
All Sammy Wilson was missing in his response was a waxed moustache and top hat of a late (very late) Victorian villain. So what’s most striking is the sheer triviality of the whole operation. Almost as though everyone knew what triggers they were pulling, and what lines…
Great fun, except that it isn’t. Martin’s later point is that none of this helps the deteriorating relationship between Britain and Ireland. When Brexit is over (if it is ever going to be over), bridges will have to be rebuilt slowly and painfully.
Of course, it could also be that this is some sort of bait and switch manufactured crisis intended to come prior to a fix. Or to a political climb down?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty