Runaway Brexit train being driven by people with no real understanding

Runaway Brexit train being driven by people with no real understanding

Back in 2016 at the beginning of the Brexit debacle, it was blindingly obvious that in the forthcoming negotiations between the UK and the EU, the power in the relationship would lie on the EU side.

The UK side never seemed to recognise that reality, possibly because of the traditional sense of superiority that a segment of the British population has always had towards those pesky Europeans.

However, the reality of the unbalanced nature of the relationship was made abundantly clear earlier this week with that by now infamous press conference in Luxembourg. It will go down in history as one of the golden moments in this long-running saga.

Over the past few days I have heard differing interpretations of - and opinions on - what happened. One opinion is that the Prime Minister of Luxembourg was dead right to show Boris who is boss.

A differing opinion is that the Luxembourg Prime Minister - Xavier Bettel - was out of order and his actions will just serve to solidify the anti-EU sentiment that is driving those who want a hard Brexit on October 31, thereby driving all of us closer to that dreaded precipice.

The truth is probably somewhere in between, but in reality, it is just another bizarre episode in this long-running bizarre episode in EU and British history.

The bottom line is that the press conference mostly reflected frustration from the EU side at the lack of progress that had been made at the meeting on Monday.

The official British view is based on an insistence that no deal will be done so long as the dreaded backstop remains in place. On the other hand, the EU insistence on the backstop would appear to remain as strong as ever.

It is all looking increasingly like a crash out on October 31, unless both sides are prepared to compromise.

The EU stance is unlikely to do so in the absence of the UK side coming up with an alternative solution to the EU border issue on the island of Ireland, such as an acceptance of a border in the Irish Sea. However, Jacob Rees Mogg and his cronies would never accept that and clearly hanker after a crash out on October 31.

Unfortunately, poor Boris has no real idea what he really wants and will continue to be manipulated by the hard Brexit lunatics who are intent on doing untold damage to Great Britain and particularly the North of Ireland in the pursuit of some dubious ideological dream.

Runaway Brexit train being driven by people with no real understanding

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Ireland dampened the spirits of many of those travelling to the annual ploughing extravaganza by suggesting that in the event of a no-deal Brexit and a WTO tariff regime, up to one third of Irish farmers could be forced out of business, with the sheep and beef sectors most vulnerable.

As we have seen during the ongoing and seemingly intractable beef dispute, beef farmers are being hit with a perfect storm of lower EU market prices; a consumer move away from beef due to a combination of dietary and environmental concerns; very cheap protein substitutes in the form of pork and chicken; a massive increase in the size of the beef herd due to the expansion of the dairy herd over the past five years; and extreme control over prices by a retail grocery sector where the growing market share of the discounters is having a very depressing impact on the retail price of beef, which is, in turn, having a depressing impact on the price that the farmer is commanding in the market.

Then on top of this is the growing possibility of a hard Brexit and a Mercosur trade deal further down the road that will open up Irish and EU beef producers to a new level of competition.

All in all, it is a particularly difficult situation for Irish farmers that will not be helped by the intervention of a populist president who has an ideological dislike of big business and a clear lack of understanding of the economics of farming.

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