Phil Hogan given trade portfolio - A new dealer at the card table

Phil Hogan given trade portfolio - A new dealer at the card table

If those sound-the-charge Leavers who, after the 2016 vote, assured their peers that they held all the cards in looming negotiations with the EU have come to regret that exuberance, it would be understandable.

If those gung-ho voices, many safely sidelined, who promised the “easiest negotiations ever” have come to regret that misjudgment, that would be understandable too. It may be understood that they had no reason to know who Phil Hogan is.

That is about to change.

Mr Hogan has been nominated as the EU’s next trade commissioner and he will play a central role in Brexit negotiations. Best remembered in Ireland as the architect of the water charges fiasco, he is a robust, no-holds-barred operator.

He is far more a five-medal Kilkenny defender than an Oxford opening batsman — the very qualities, the very directness needed to steady the ship at this dangerous moment.

Those who will negotiate with Mr Hogan, EU farm agriculture commissioner for five years, should study how he warned Irish farmers their expansion plans were unsustainable and how he defended the Mercosur deal from those who might seem his natural constituency.

This promotion means that there will be a heavyweight Irish perspective informing Brexit talks and though it would be wrong to say we hold the cards now, there is certainly a new dealer at the table.

All of Ireland should wish him well as his performance will help or hinder EU prosperity.

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