You can count on the Irish not to mince their words, and Ireland’s EU commissioner Phil Hogan is a fine example.
He made a speech at Carlingford in Ireland, warning that Boris Johnson is gambling with the peace and stability Ireland has enjoyed since the Good Friday Agreement with his threat of a “no deal” Brexit.
The Irish Independent published a report based on a text of what Mr Hogan was planning to say, and it’s red hot.
See for yourself [boldings mine]:
“Prime Minister Johnson’s hero is Winston Churchill and he seems to view himself as a modern day Churchill. However, in the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK government’s only Churchilian legacy will be –‘never have so few done so much damage to so many’.
“If the UK fails to prevent a crash-out Brexit they should be under no illusion regarding the foul atmosphere they will create with their EU partners and the serious consequences this will have for negotiating any future trade agreement.
“More than three years on from the referendum, we still have no clear idea about what kind of Brexit the UK wants. And the UK is running out of time to make up its mind.
“From the EU side, nothing has changed. We will hold the line. We have made detailed contingency plans for every outcome and we will not be found wanting. Contrary to what the UK government may wish, the EU will not buckle.
“We reiterate that the backstop is a necessary, legally operative solution to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland and we deeply regret that the new UK government wants to replace a legally operative solution with a commitment to try to find a solution – yet to be found- by the end of the transition period.
“We should recall that the backstop was agreed by a prime minister who was democratically elected.”
Admittedly, Mr Hogan let himself down at the end, there. Theresa May was not democratically-elected. She enjoyed a coronation in 2016, when rivals for the Tory leadership backed off to allow her to take the role – and in the election of 2017 she lost the Conservative Party’s majority in the House of Commons and was forced to do a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, costing the public purse £1 billion, in order to retain her place.
But the implication is accurate – that BoJob is an unelected prime minister who is afraid of going to the polls because he fears he will lose to a strong Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.
And he is “gambling with peace”, as Mr Hogan stated in his (rather bland) tweet about the speech:
Speaking this morning at @Darcymcgee2019 Summer School #Brexit debate. Key message: we cannot gamble with the peace and stability which the Good Friday Agreement has built on the island of Ireland. The #backstop was agreed by both sides and UK must honour its commitment. pic.twitter.com/NC56PVazVR
— Phil Hogan (@PhilHoganEU) August 21, 2019
As Mr Johnson goes into a meeting with Angela Merkel, it is clear that her position – and that of the rest of the EU27 – is not about to change.
Indeed, France seems now convinced that a “no deal” Brexit is inevitable and determined that the UK will pay the £39 billion that it is said to owe the bloc in financial commitments made before the EU referendum.
So BoJob has a lot to consider, and so do we.