08 April 2017
Sometimes you get an image in your mind and it is hard to shake it off. Then it is more difficult when it is magnified by a phrase. Let me try it on you. The Rock of Gibraltar and being between a rock and a hard place. To me it is beginning to encapsulate my feelings about Brexit. The Gibraltar scenario is interesting. It has been British since 1713. In 1967 99% of the population rejected Spanish sovereignty. Its 30,000 inhabitants are legally British and yet Spain has been granted a veto over a Brexit deal unless there are what is seen as concessions over Gibraltar. For starters the hypocrisy is astounding. How about their enclaves in Morocco ?
However, in a broader sense this brings me immediately to the phrase, between a rock and a hard place. In short the Brexit negotiations are going to get very rough and we should have no illusions about this from the beginning. The complexity of it all is mind-boggling. Trying to knock 27 governments together is nigh impossible and yet you get the Spanish muddying the waters before we have even started. Whilst there has been recognition that Ireland is a special case by both the British and Brussels there will still be massive resistance to us talking directly to the British. Frankly, I take the view that all possible channels must be used and I have concerns that some elements of our political class are neutered by their Europe First attitudes. There is only one way to defend our national interest and that is robustly. I still resent the way we were treated by Europe during the banking crisis. Now wasn’t it Leo Varadkar who said “Not a red cent more” ? Would he be better placed to defend our interest than endless Enda ?
Wider afield one can only feel utterly nauseated by events in Syria. Yet again this week the Assad regime has plumbed the depths of depravity. Can no end be brought to this endless slaughter ? As I write this column it seems that Donald Trump may be contemplating some military action. So far he has condemned Assad but not the Russians. Trump’s inexperience in Foreign Affairs scares me. Despatching his son-in-law Jared Kushner to Iraq, rather than the Secretary of State, smacks of monarchical behaviour.
Globally this weekend will tell a tale. The Chinese President will see the Donald at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. I’ve been there. The atmosphere is detached from reality. In the library hangs his portrait labelled “The Visionary”. Frankly the world should hold its breath. Korea, Free Trade, the Global Environment – definitely between a rock and a hard place.