Why Phil Hogan shouldn’t be made resign as EU Trade Commissioner.

 At first glance, Phil Hogan and Harry Maguire have little in common. Hogan is (at the time of writing) an EU commissioner, Harry Maguire is a Man United and England player. However, Maguire is considered a lucky man to be in the England squad, because of a brawl in Greece, even if he’s deprived of the captaincy.  Phil Hogan is an unlucky man, as his various infringements of the Covid-19 guidelines have left him very vulnerable to dismissal by Ursula von der Leyen, the EU president.  What do Harry and Phil have in common? They both look as though they’ll be punished for something in a completely separate area of their lives.

Take Harry. He’s regarded as a very effective footballer, and Man United  paid £80 million to have him on their team. Likewise he was picked for and captained the England team, but if he’s convicted of a brawl in Greece outside a night club, he may be dropped by his club team and the England team. Which would be not only unfair but ridiculous.

Maguire was bought for his footballing ability, not because he was a model citizen. It’d be nice if he was that as well but no club with their wits about them would pay £80million to sign an upright citizen. Regardless of whether he’s found guilty of the Greece brawl, he’ll still be the same quality footballer, which is what he was bought for.  To punish him in his football life for deeds committed in his night-out-with-the-lads life is, as I say, absurd.

Likewise Phil Hogan. There’s little doubt that he breached the guidelines regarding Covid-19. – that visit to the K-club, that meal in a restaurant, that using his phone while driving, that attendance at the Golfgate tournament and dinner – all of these are regrettable and even hypocritical. And for Phil to say that he “made a mistake” is thigh-slappingly daft.

However, he wasn’t appointed as EU trade commissioner because he was an upright citizen. He was chosen because he was believed to be an effective negotiator in these days of Brexit. The fact that he breached the Covid-19 guidelines in Ireland has nothing to do with it. Hogan works for the EU, not Ireland. In fact he was required to swear under oath that he’d not work for the interests of the Twenty-six Counties, but for the interests of the EU.

Will Phil Hogan’s involvement in Golfgate be enough to remove him as EU Commissioner for Trade? It shouldn’t. He was appointed not for his award-winning adhesion to the Covid rules, he was appointed because he was seen as an effective  Commissioner.  The various absurd breaches of the guidelines in Ireland hasn’t changed his negotiating skills, and those skills, one presumes,  are why he was appointed trade Commissioner.

The reason Varadkar and Micheál have hung him out to dry is because they don’t want to be seen as complicit in any breach of the Covid guidelines. But Hogan wasn’t made commissioner because he was good at observing the guide-lines; he was made commissioner because he could do the job, and he should be removed only if he shows himself incompetent in the job. Nothing else.

The interesting question now should be: When did Varadkar and Martin  know of the Connemara golf thrash? If they didn’t know until the outcry last week, they must be two tone-deaf politicians.  If they did know about the Connemara thrash,  why did they remain tight-lipped until the story broke out in the media?

Meanwhile, I know a good friend who is this week going to have a kidney removed. In assessing the surgeons involved, do you think it’s likely that the person in question will call for  a surgeon replacement, because s/he has just heard that the surgeon in question fiddles his/her taxes?  Not a chance.

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