The warm and cosy delusions of those opposed to Britain remaining in the European Union had, sooner or later, to come up against the chill wind of reality. And for many of those thus deluded, the moment of truth has finally arrived. Their dream is crumbling before their eyes. There is nothing they can do about it except to lose the plot, as they invoke imagined past glories to ward off the real world.
It would take a heart of stone not to laugh. And few observers have a heart of stone. But what has provoked the onrush of reality? Simples. While the Tories have had difficulty agreeing to be seen in the same room, the EU side has compiled a Draft Legal Agreement on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. This derives from the agreement reached last December. And once again, the problem is with the Irish border.
As the BBC has reported, “The EU's draft legal agreement proposes a ‘common regulatory area’ after Brexit on the island of Ireland - in effect keeping Northern Ireland in a customs union - if no other solution is found … Unveiling the draft agreement, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier called on the UK to come up with alternatives”.
That is, alternatives to doing no more than squabbling amongst themselves. Theresa May decreed the draft unacceptable: “no UK prime minister could ever agree”. The Europhobic press will applaud her tomorrow. But they, too, are in a state of delusion. On Murdoch-owned Talk Radio, Julia Hartley Dooda invoked the memory of Mrs T: “Margaret Thatcher would have told the EU to ‘get stuffed’ over the Irish border”.
Meanwhile, the Mail On Sunday’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges entered into the panic with gusto: “If it's true - as the Times reports - that Labour and Barnier are now directly coordinating their Brexit positions, then Corbyn and Starmer are playing with fire”. That’s how he goes wrong so often - taking the Murdoch press on trust.
And talking of the Murdoch shilling takers, Iain Martin was on hand to scoff “Here it is. The EU plan to annex Northern Ireland. Appalling. What an organisation”. When told this was as a result of the December report, all The Great Man could manage was “Don't be a muppet”. It was, as he was then told, in Paragraphs 45 and 49. Reading. Try doing it.
One pundit who was also not for reading Paragraphs 45 and 49 was Iain Dale, who pontificated “Watching Barnier at his self-preening worst. He is clearly trying to interfere in the constitutional affairs of a sovereign nation. I do wonder if this time he really has overreached himself. His terms are simply not ones the UK government can accept”.
The Press and Pundit Establishment was so full of itself after disaster was averted last December, telling anyone who would listen that Britain would make a great success of Brexit, that many of them failed to read what was in the document.
It was left to David Allen Green to explain “The EU simply put into legal form what the UK had already agreed to back in December, and such is the nature of UK politics this is a major event”. Quite. And, remember it well, those who have gone off the end of the pier in no style at all at today’s news are typical of “The commentators who count”.
They are out of touch with the real world. So no surprise there, then.