Boris and David Show makes its last Brexit
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.