Brexit: The path to hell is paved with good intentions

You know your stock has fallen to all time lows when even Brussels bureaucrats tell a reverend's daughter to go to hell, but warn the devil himself may not let her in because of the damage being caused her own country.

Brexit: The path to hell is paved with good intentions

You know your stock has fallen to all time lows when even Brussels bureaucrats tell a reverend's daughter to go to hell, but warn the devil himself may not let her in because of the damage being caused her own country.

However, given the boiling blood pressure nature of Brexit, it was perhaps inevitable that even normally cool and calculated politicians have chosen to do away with the nuanced PR and getting biblical on the crisis.

With just 51 days to go until the EU-UK divorce date, all eyes were on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he travelled to Brussels for the latest round of crucial Brexit talks today.

However, within minutes of the first public engagements with European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker taking place, it was clear the usually headline-grabbing Irish leader had been relegated to the sidelines.

Speaking alongside Mr Varadkar in what was meant to be a carefully choreographed media statements event, Mr Tusk was in no mood for continuing to play Brexit saint act.

Setting in motion a clear change in tone from previous Brexit engagements, Mr Tusk channeled his best 1980s Margaret Thatcher impression, saying a re-run of the Brexit referendum is out, any change whatsoever to the backstop is out, and that slim British hopes of a "new offer" from the EU is ... well, you get the picture.

And then, in the blink of an eye, the normally calmly spoken European Council president let his hooves poke out from under the podium and appeared to swap his speech for an old testament bible verse, effectively telling hard-line Brexiteers and the British government to go to hell.

"I've been wondering, what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan for how to carry it out safely," he said to momentary gasps at the inflammatory language, before handing over the stage to Mr Varadkar.

The comment - and Mr Tusk being caught on a still live microphone moments later laughing and saying "yeah, I know!" when told by the Taoiseach the British media will give him "terrible trouble" over what he said - was repeated throughout the day by other EU leaders.

As the DUP's Sammy Wilson - himself no stranger to bible verses - furiously lashed out, labelling Mr Tusk a "devilish, trident-wielding euro maniac" and other MPs raged at the remark being "out of order", European Parliament negotiator Guy Verhofstadt stuck the knife in further, saying:

I doubt Lucifer would welcome them [Brexiteers], as after what they did to Britain, they would even manage to divide hell.

And, just moments after being pictured alongside Mr Varadkar holding a novelty sized "thank you from Ireland card" sent by a Dublin family, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was just as forceful in his hardline support for Ireland, saying the EU is not about to budge.

The tough stance is almost certain to be part of an increasing EU strategy to pile pressure on British prime minister Theresa May and other MPs to back down on their demands before Ms May's crucial meetings in Brussels and Dublin on Thursday and Friday.

However, given the pressure cooker nature of Brexit, it remains unclear if the apparent plan will lead to a road to Damascus moment for Brexiteers or see Britain fling furiously to another bible verse by cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Perhaps with one eye on the potential damage a no deal Brexit will cause Ireland and the other on a different biblical story - the judgement of Solomon, where two fighting women claiming ownership of a child were asked if they would allow it to be cut in half - Mr Varadkar was yesterday playing it uncharacteristically diplomatic, and side-stepped when asked if he wanted to pour petrol onto the hellish Brexit flames.

No change on the backstop, no new deal, no concessions of any kind, he said... then added he is still happy to break bread with Ms May, whose visit to Dublin to meet Mr Varadkar for dinner tomorrow could ultimately become her last political supper.

"Look one thing I can definitely say is no matter what happens in the next couple of months Ireland and the UK, we have to have good relations no matter what happens," he smiled, slightly turning the other cheek.

Some may look at the never ending Brexit purgatory of the past two and a half years and believe a bit of time warming their hoofs in hell may be just what Britain deserves.

But, given the fact Ireland is just as vulnerable as Britain in a no deal Brexit and that hell can always make room for one more lost soul, Irish diplomats will no doubt be hoping the hardline EU stance has the required response, remembering that old saying 'the path to hell is paved with good intentions'.

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