UK and Ireland need Yes vote on May’s deal
TUESDAY will be a historic day. When Westminster votes on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the outcome could make waves that will spread for decades, and upturn many boats along the way.
Clearly, it is in Ireland’s best interests that the vote is a positive one, and the path to Brexit can be smooth. We have had quite enough of lurching from one crisis to another. With the numbers seemingly stacked against acceptance of the deal, though, there is a much scarier prospect: that of a disorderly withdrawal and a no-deal scenario that surely will bring economic misery to the UK and Ireland.
Relations between our two countries have improved immeasurably over the past three decades, not least because of the Good Friday Agreement. The angry rhetoric of the past two years, on both sides, has not been helpful, whether that was the Taoiseach needlessly playing hardball or the latest intervention from former Tory minister Priti Patel, who suggested Ireland could have been starved into a better backstop deal if the UK blocked food supplies to this country.
For a woman of Indian descent to invoke the spectre of famine belies an ignorance not only of Ireland, but also of her own country during the colonial era. It was an intervention as contemptible as it was risible.
In a sense, though, it was a sideshow, when the main event is imminent. The logic is inescapable. If MPs spend the next two days ignoring the noisy fanatics on both sides and seek the true feelings of ordinary UK voters, they will find strong support for Mrs May’s compromise.
Those who plan to defy Mrs May on Tuesday are betraying the very core of their party’s beliefs, but it is not too late for reason to triumph over fanaticism. We earnestly hope MPs understand the deal on the table is the only one they will be offered; the EU’s patience is not limitless, and there is no time to negotiate a different way forward before March. For the sake of Ireland, as well as the UK, we hope Mrs May secures support for her plan.