Damn it, just when hope is restored along comes Brexit to smash up the mood music around Christmas. As I put pen to paper, God knows what will happen but if No Deal emerges it will be nothing short of a catastrophic failure of statecraft particularly as both parties say they want a deal and apparently 97% of the text is agreed. Let’s just pray that Michel Barnier and Lord Foster, the respective chief negotiators, show the wisdom of Solomon and find a way of bridging the gap between the UK and EU so we can enjoy Christmas without thinking about the chaos and the economic carnage that the No Deal could bring in 2021.
Still I was mightily relieved that the Northern Ireland Protocol issue was put to bed avoiding Boris Johnson pushing highly contentious legislation through the House of Commons. In fact, the optimistic side of my nature hopes that this might show a willingness to compromise in Brussels. What is interesting is whether the Brits had any contact with the incoming Biden administration. The President Elect has made it crystal clear he does not want to see anything undermining the Good Friday Agreement. In turn the Brits want a Trade Deal with the States and Biden is pro EU. All of this might help smooth the path to a deal. Boris is well capable of appreciating the moving parts. But the key question is whether that is sufficient for him to make the final concessions required. Mind you, it takes two to tango and perhaps the EU needs to be less rigid on its rules around the level playing field. As for the fish, it is surely not beyond the wit of the EU and the UK to reach agreement whilst understanding that the UK wishes to have control of its territorial waters.
If it is to be No Deal, and to be honest it looks pretty bleak, the Taoiseach had better start honing his negotiating skills because it will decimate the agri-food sector and could cost 55,000 jobs. The Republic is uniquely vulnerable and it is rural Ireland that will suffer. The Beef Sector in particular with its high dependence on the UK market will be devastated. In a nutshell we will need help.
If thinking about all of that makes you feel queasy, spare a thought for the States. The pandemic is now running amok. The daily death toll has now exceeded 3,000. That is like 9/11 every single day. In California, which is under strict lockdown, they have run out of ICU beds in some rural counties. All of this could have been very different. Let us not forget that Bob Woodward has the President on tape in February telling him it was airborne and deadly and yet he did nothing. So this crazed lunatic who thinks he won the election that he lost, is by his gross negligence guilty of being the root cause of thousands of deaths. Now he wants a pardon.