Ireland and Brexit negotiations: Deal-makers toy with our future

“MAY you live in interesting times” is an old saying purported to be a Chinese curse disguised as a blessing.

It is apt at present, considering the prospect of a harder-than-hard Brexit, the policies of Donald Trump, the rise of the far right in Europe and, most importantly, the failure of EU leaders and institutions to grapple with any one of those concerns.

In a prelude to triggering Article 50 and beginning formal negotiations on leaving the EU, British Prime Minister Theresa May has declared that she would prefer to end up with no deal rather than a bad deal.

May’s remark has enraged European Council president Donald Tusk who has said the EU will not be “intimidated” by threats to walk away from trade talks if it cannot get a good deal. 

Tusk’s response is idiotic and dangerous and he does the EU no favours by using such belligerent language. 

The UK is one of the biggest importers of goods from the EU so a ‘no deal’ scenario would hurt it less than the remaining member states.

The consequences for Ireland of no deal rather than a bad deal are clear: a tariff of 15% on food exports to the UK and a 36% tariff on dairy products, plus, of course, a hard border.

Ironically, the UK was to take on the presidency of the European Union on July 1 this year but that role will now go to Estonia. 

At that time, Brexit negotiations will be in full flow, making the times more interesting still.

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