Brexit debacle the end result of dismantling traditional divides

Flags of convenience... British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Flags of convenience... British Prime Minister Theresa May.

World of Politics with Harry McGee –

Our political make-up in Ireland has been a bit of a mess since 2016 when no party finished within 35 seats of an overall majority. It led to a hybrid form of government in Ireland, a deep minority relying on its main opposition party for support to remain in power – not as a coalition partner but as an outsider providing support for key votes such as budget votes and confidence votes.

The strange hybrid has had successes and failures. The main success has been economic and the continuing recovery. The big failures have been housing, homelessness and aspects of the health service.

When you don’t have a majority you have to strike deals for all the major decisions. It involves compromise much larger than coalitions.

That’s grand for stuff that’s easy but the hard and difficult stuff such as tax increases, carbon tax, property tax – which are never crowd pleasers – are virtually impossible to get through.

For all that, our complicated arrangement – and all the hassle it causes – is a walk in the park compared to the madness that we are seeing unfurling before our eyes in Westminster.

It’s not even that parties there got dealt the lousy hand we had. But through a series of foot-shooting episodes they have brought themselves to a place that is only one storey above Alice in Wonderland, and two storeys above hell.

When Theresa May became prime minister she said that she would see Brexit through – and emboldened by opinion polls she decided to hold a snap election.

She ran a disastrous campaign and was lucky to survive, albeit with much reduced seat numbers. Now she had to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party for support – and when it came to hardline Brexiteers they really fit the picture.

If May had sat tight and not been tempted by a snap election, there is a chance she could have squeezed her proposals through. But her smaller party’s majority was so precarious that its rump of hardline Brexiteers became hugely influential.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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