Boris and David Show makes its last Brexit

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - & - Dar­ragh McManus

One week, two po­lit­i­cal earth­quakes that shook so­ci­ety — well, sort of. The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the Brexit process from rocky to full-on farce cer­tainly re­ver­ber­ated around the world. The news that Michael D Hig­gins would be run­ning for Pres­i­dent again, not so much, al­though it does prom­ise a few months of elec­toral high jinks for all the fam­ily to en­joy.

Both sto­ries were ex­haus­tively cov­ered across ra­dio. The Last Word (To­day FM, MonFri 4.30pm) ex­am­ined the ef­fect that Boris John­son and David Davis’ res­ig­na­tions will have on Ire­land — a sen­si­ble per­spec­tive to take, re­ally, given that do­mes­tic UK af­fairs re­ally are none of our busi­ness.

Bri­tish PM Theresa May promised that there’d be no hard bor­der be­tween Ire­land and the North, but Matt Cooper asked: “Can she guar­an­tee that?”

Fine Gael Sen­a­tor Neil Rich­mond, on the phone from West­min­ster, de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as “in­ter­est­ing and ex­cit­ing”, but stressed that “this doesn’t ac­tu­ally change things that much” from an Irish stand­point.

Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Cham­bers wasn’t quite so upbeat, wor­ry­ing that this means the fa­mous “back­stop” — which would pre­vent a hard bor­der — has not been agreed and is po­ten­tially in jeop­ardy. Mean­while, Gay Mitchell spoke quite well of Davis as a per­son, de­scrib­ing him as hon­ourable, like­able and some­one who had “no choice” but to re­sign. John­son, he reck­oned, only thinks of him­self.

On BBC Ra­dio 4’s flag­ship To­day (MonFri 6am), Hi­lary Benn — chair of the Brexit Se­lect Com­mit­tee — with­er­ingly de­clared that Mrs May’s gov­ern­ment is do­ing “a fab­u­lous job of un­der­min­ing its own ne­go­ti­a­tions”. He added: “Europe is look­ing on in a state of be­wil­der­ment (and) MPs of all per­sua­sions are ask­ing, what on earth is go­ing on?”

The same show fea­tured fight­ing words from for­mer Tory leader, the pro-Brexit Michael Howard: “There were al­ways go­ing to be some thrills and spills (in this ne­go­ti­a­tion). But the Euro­pean Union wants a deal, and there is ev­ery prospect there­fore, if we hold our nerve, that we can get a good deal for them and for us… it’s in our mu­tual in­ter­ests.”

Mov­ing back home, Driv­e­time (Ra­dio 1, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) asked whether Pres­i­dent Hig­gins will be re­turned un­op­posed for a se­cond term — or could we have the de­li­cious prospect of a vi­cious elec­tion in store?

If the lat­ter, po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist Justine McCarthy reck­oned that Michael D’s reneg­ing on his 2011 prom­ise of be­ing a one-term pres­i­dent “will come back to haunt him”. While peo­ple gen­er­ally take the cyn­i­cal view that “this is what politi­cians do”, she added that “the pres­i­dency should be above politics (and) this isn’t what would be seen as Michael D’s usual style of do­ing things”.

David Davin-Power said he wasn’t “hung up on the no­tion of a con­test, per se… I’m not con­vinced there’s a great groundswell of opin­ion out there for it. Michael D, by com­mon con­sent, has been do­ing an okay job.”

The Pat Kenny Show (New­stalk, MonFri 9am) heard from po­lit­i­cal journo Sean De­foe, who was in Castle­bar for Hig­gins’ an­nounce­ment that he’d be seek­ing a se­cond term. He agreed with Pat that there was “no ma­jor sur­prise” in the news, adding: “There have been sig­nals that he’d go again, al­though he had promised last time that he wouldn’t, so that was ques­tion num­ber one.”

Michael D, he went on, stressed that oth­ers had en­cour­aged him to go again “but didn’t ac­tu­ally out­line what he’d do dif­fer­ently… He said, ‘You know what you’re get­ting with me, this is the ex­pe­ri­ence I can bring, I think I’ve done a good job and I want a se­cond term’.”

And what we all want is a good old­fash­ioned elec­toral brawl. Bring it on.

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