May in Dublin: A meeting entirely without substance February 8, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Her visits to Cardiff and Dublin had all the hallmarks of a round of consultative photocalls before the Westminster parliament debated the Brexit Bill later in the week.
It is noteworthy that May not only declined the honour of addressing both Houses of the Oireachtas, but also held no discussions with non-government parliamentarians or other stakeholders, and opted merely for a ritualistic meeting with Enda Kenny, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and some of their officials and advisers.
May was accompanied to Dublin by Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, but none of her three ministers who will actually negotiate Brexit, David Davis, Boris Johnson or Liam Fox, came along with her.
This Anglo- Irish summit on Brexit also had limited value as a media opportunity. Irish journalists dutifully covered the meeting but it got almost no coverage in London.
It seems few if any of the Downing Street press corps travelled to report on it.
This seems to align with a dawning perception of her as a lightweight politician almost entirely lacking in substance. But as Whelan notes this is much much deeper than that: ‘[it] revealed much about the low priority which she and her government attach to engagement with Ireland on the implications of Brexit.’
This site has long argued that this state and this island and its concerns are hardly an afterthought in the Brexit process, at least from the perspective of London. And that has practical implications as detailed here on Friday. Whelan again notes the testimony given to the Select Committee on Northern Ireland which heard that a ‘frictionless’ border was a fantasy.
Still, it’s an interesting tonal shift in Whelan’s writing. For a while now he’s been running in the conceptual slipstream of Tom McGurk’s sub-Irexit musings where Britain is painted as our necessary ‘partner’, whereas perhaps the penny is dropping that Britain is in fact the architect and perpetuator of a disastrous dynamic for this island in terms of the implications and form of Brexit.
Keep in mind that were Britain to remain in the EEA/EFTA configuration all this would not be an issue. But that would require Britain accepting freedoms of movement (albeit there are potential controls on same which could be implemented). And as we know immigration is the key component of Brexit for this Tory gov