If there is one thing that drives some unionists mad, it is intervention in British-Irish affairs by the US. They have perfectly logical reasons for going mad: once the US comes into play, it’s no longer a question of hulking Britain hovering over puny Ireland telling the leprachauns it’s our way or the highway. Now there’s the massively more powerful US hovering over puny Britain saying “Hey, buster, leave that kid alone!” This was obvious twenty years ago, when Bill Clinton, against all sorts of pressure from Britain, granted a visa to Gerry Adams. It was seen in the appointment of Senator George Mitchell to chair the talks that led up to the Good Friday Agreement. And it’s still a more minor irritant.
Unionist politicians have learned to live with if not love this interference by the Yanks. Until very recently. Because yesterday, across the Atlantic into the Brexit hell’s-brew comes another American voice, this time speaking with an Irish-American accent. Congressman Brendan Boyle, the son of an Irishman who emigrated to the US in 1977, has tweeted “After agreeing to the Irish backstop, Theresa May’s government has now reneged on it. Why would anyone negotiate with her now?”
That’s a question many of us have posed to ourselves, but maybe we’re more used to the, er, slipperiness of British politicians. I mean, any prime minister who doggedly insists that the agreement she’s hammered out is the only possible deal with the EU, and then votes against her own bill. No wonder Congressman Boyle is scratching his well-groomed head.
But this isn’t just another example of British duplicity. We’re now approaching the end-game between the UK and the EU, the game that’s been going on for the last two years. To their surprise, the Brits haven’t managed to tell the EU what to do, and when they’ve tried, the EU has raised a civilized eyebrow and shrugged.
So now it’s time for desperate measures.
“Theresa!” the Boris-Jacob axis has shouted. “Pull on this vest.”
Theresa is nothing if not careful about her couture, so imagine her distaste when she finds the vest in question is lined with semtex.
“I’m not putting that on! I can’t! Impossible!”
“Yes you can” the Brexiteers tell her.
“OK, I can”.
Theresa is fitted out, the waist tightened, the shoulders smoothed to a snug fit.
“Am I to wear this to Europe?”
“And what do I…?”
“ You say ‘Scrap the backstop or I press the red button.”
“But – but that would mean I’d be blown to bits!”
“Yes, but think of the damage you’d do to the bloody Europeans . There’s a good chance Barnier will lose a limb and Juncker serious shrapnel wounds.”
“But I’d be dead.”
“Yes, Theresa, but you’re the prime minister. You represent us. And we say it’s time the UK sailed clear of port to new-found freedom, even if there are one or two rather large holes below the waterline, caused by the aftershock of your explosion in Brussels. But Britain has stood alone before and look at us today – a great power in the world, about to become an even greater power. Besides, the colour of that suicide vest matches exactly with your eyes.”
“We know. Á bientot, Theresa. Auf Weidersen. Remember you’re doing this for Britain. Now, where’s that pesky Boyle person’s address? It’s time we taught him his place.”