Bertie Ahern: Theresa May needs to 'swallow humble pie'

Bertie Ahern: Theresa May needs to 'swallow humble pie'

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says that British Prime Minister Theresa May needs to “swallow humble pie” and consider indicative votes and to meet with Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“It’s extraordinary that they can’t talk to each other,” he told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

The only way that the UK can prepare for Brexit is if there are indicative votes, he added.

Under the indicative votes proposal MPs would be asked to line up and vote on a second referendum, a managed no-deal, a Norway-style deal or Labour’s idea of Mrs May’s deal plus a customs union.

The votes would be free votes in which MPs could cast their ballots as they saw fit. MPs could also vote for as many of the options as they wished.

The Vice President of the European Parliament, Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness agreed that indicative votes could be the answer. But she said it would be difficult for Mrs May to “reach across the divide” to Mr Corbyn at this stage.

She said there seemed to be a feeling among some politicians that the EU was “trying to trap the UK into staying in the EU. That’s not the case. We accept that they’re leaving, but we want to keep them close.”

Ms McGuinness added that if there was a no deal exit by the UK it would reflect badly “on all of us, that as politicians we couldn’t do our job.”

Former adviser to former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Philip Blond said that hopes for a Norway-style deal were unrealistic as there was no middle ground. “We can’t half leave.”

There was a conundrum with the majority in parliament against a withdrawal deal, but failing to offer any alternatives.

The situation would resolve itself if there was a second referendum, which both sides think they could win.

He suggested that the EU would agree to suspend Article 50 and the holding of a second referendum. “I think that’s where we’re going to end up.”

However, Ms McGuinness said this would place the EU in a dilemma. “How much time can you give without disrupting the European elections?”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that she did not want to see a chaotic or disorderly Brexit and that the next logical thing to do to avoid that was to remove the border in the national interest.

The EU understands the importance of the Good Friday Agreement and its importance in the event of a disorderly exit, she said.

Bertie Ahern: Theresa May needs to 'swallow humble pie'

Mr Ahern added that the biggest danger now was a no deal Brexit which could mean that World Trade Organisation rules would come in which would mean the introduction of a border.

If Jeremy Corbyn “sticks to his position” on the Customs Union that would mean the backstop wouldn’t matter. “If he (Corbyn) loses then there is like to be a move to a second referendum,” he added.

Former Conservative MP Michael Portillo said that Theresa May was being “very obstinate”, but that her power was waning and that power would instead now rest with the House of Commons who would have to express their views on what options were available to the UK.

He thought there might be a majority who would favour a Norway-deal scenario, but he warned that it would be a “bruising and destructive process.”

Mr Portillo predicted that Mrs May “will be borne along the tide of events.”

The British parliament is “very fearful” of a no deal Brexit so it will ensure that it won’t happen, he said.

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