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Cork Independent


And this too shall pass?

Wednesday, 4th September, 2019 5:00pm

The Brits are at it again.

The Brits really are at it again.

It’s a phrase we’ve heard a lot of recently. I thought we were hearing it too much. That was until Tuesday night.

It’s quite strange watching your closest neighbour/ally/friend/frenemy tear themselves apart.

It’s fair to say that we have a complex, mixed relationship with the British, but we often overlook just how close we are to them, culturally, linguistically and historically as well as geographically.

But there is always a voyeuristic fascination to watching someone go absolutely out of their mind.

And that’s very much what’s happening across the water again. Tuesday’s and yesterday’s extraordinary events leave us in uncharted territory.

It’s hard to know where it leaves Ireland but all this uncertainty is certainly doing us untold damage.

On Tuesday British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a humiliating defeat in his first House of Commons vote as prime minister.

21 Conservative rebels voted with opposition MPs to seize control of the parliamentary timetable, aiming to block a no-deal Brexit by forcing the prime minister to request an extension to article 50 if he cannot strike a new deal with the EU. The vote on Tuesday was lost by 328 to 301.

Former cabinet ministers including Philip Hammond and David Gauke were among the rebels. So was Sir Nicholas Soames. His grandfather was Winston Churchill and he lost the whip because he voted against the government.

Boris Johnson has said that he will ask parliament to support plans for a snap October general election.

That all follows the extraordinary scenes last week when Johnson suspended parliament, prompting widespread disbelief across the world.

God knows what happened in the Commons last night after we went to print.

One of the images of the year was captured on Tuesday night of one Tory MP lying on a bench in the Commons during debates with a sneer on his face. That picture of leading hard Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg lying down while the debate on the bill to block a no deal Brexit took place was an almost perfect representation of hard Brexit arrogance.

Meanwhile US Vice President Mike Pence visited us this week, paying visits to President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. His grandfather left Ireland in the 1920s after the War of Independence.

In a speech that seemed to channel his boss Donald Trump, he urged Ireland and the EU to negotiate “in good faith” with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to secure a deal that “respects the UK’s sovereignty”.

Wow. Mr Pence hasn’t made himself very welcome in what he called the ‘old country’.

Truly, the Brits and the Yanks are it again.

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