UK and Ire­land need Yes vote on May’s deal

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT -

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.

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