Brexit talks: Deal that's not welcome but tolerable

Brexit talks: Deal that's not welcome but tolerable

Waiting for the Brexit finale has been a bit like sitting in a dentist’s surgery for three years — scared of the worst while hoping for the best, yet willing to accept a modicum of discomfort to get it all over with.

After a turbulent day of negotiations in Brussels and politics in Westminster, it is understood that a deal EU leaders can sign up to is within reach.

It looks like the worst is over and that the UK has come to accept a withdrawal arrangement with the European Union that leaves no party happy but all resigned to the result.

In other words, a deal that is not welcome, but tolerable.

Who would have thought that the caricature figure of British prime minister Boris Johnson would have achieved what his predecessor, Theresa May, failed to do?

Who would have thought that his blundering, blustering methodology would have proven more potent than the prim insouciance of David Cameron, the man who orchestrated the Brexit referendum in the mistaken belief that it would deliver a ‘remain’ vote?

Who would have thought that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney would have the statesmanship to orchestrate a campaign on Ireland’s behalf to limit the effect of Britain’s departure from the EU and succeed in doing so?

Who would have thought that the Democratic Unionist Party would have accepted a modified arrangement on consent?

They were key to this arrangement, not just because they held, briefly, the balance of power at Westminster but because all parties involved understood that, without Unionist compliance, a deal could not be delivered.

Boris Johnson is fond of Mount Everest similes, telling Tory MPs yesterday that his government was “on the Hillary Step” in relation to the Brexit talks, without realising that the most perilous part of the route to the top of Everest was destroyed four years ago.

Johnson is a prime example of disgrace under pressure.

In the last few days alone, he has had to contend with shrill warnings about the real effects of a no-deal scenario on the UK.

Human Rights Watch has warned of food shortages that could affect the poor in the UK while the US House of Representatives has insisted on a no-deal if there is a no deal.

The chairman of the influential US House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee has issued a fresh warning that there will be no trade deal between the US and the UK if Brexit leads to the return of a hard border.

The speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, has also warned that there will be no trade deal with the UK if Brexit undermines the Good Friday Agreement.

That means that the pressure has been on Boris Johnson at both social and economic level to achieve a deal, yet neither seems to have ruffled his blond mane.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has said the “foundations” of a Brexit deal are ready for approval by EU leaders but that Brussels is waiting on London to sign off on it.

Let us hope, for the sake of the EU, Ireland, and the UK, that they do exactly that.

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