Goodbye and good riddance to our Brexit hard men
Goodbye and good riddance to our Brexit hard men


By Brian Feeney (for the Irish News)

We’re told self-styled ‘hard man of Brexit’ Steve Baker is on holiday in Greece. That brings to mind, though in entirely different context, Dorothy Parker’s quip when told US President Calvin Coolidge had passed away: “How can they tell?”

No-one here knew or cares that Baker is on holiday, for his absence makes no difference to the life of anyone in the north.

Baker himself was unabashed when questioned about taking a holiday during the election campaign: “The prime minister told everyone we could go on holiday and then called a snap election.”

He then rather impertinently added: “So I’ve chosen to do my campaign work in Greece.”

However, there’s good news. Peter Kellner, the pollster and election expert, says Baker was right not to cancel his holiday because he has no chance of keeping his seat.

He has a majority of 1,494. Kellner reckons Baker is polling so badly he would do well to keep the majority of his Labour opponent Emma Reynolds below 10,000. He asked: “Why not stay in Greece and give his concession speech via Zoom?’ A sentiment many people here would wholeheartedly endorse.

The added bonus is that our silent, invisible proconsul is taking to the lifeboats with almost 80 other Conservative MPs, so come July 5 we’ll be rid of both.

The paradoxical aspect of their involvement with Ireland is that they both did more damage in the six years before the dreadful Liz Truss foisted them on us than they did while they were here.

Her appointment of the pair was greeted with deep dismay in Dublin and among nationalists in the north because she sent them with reputations as hard-line Brexiteers to implement her stupidly illegal Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

However, she quickly reached terminal velocity and within five months they were implementing Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework. It recalls Groucho Marx’s gag: “These are my principles and if you don’t like them, I have others.”

The rest of their miserable tenure at the NIO was then spent pulling the wool over the DUP’s eyes while ignoring the existence of the nationalist community in the north, whom they had traduced since the execrable Brexit referendum in 2016.

From September 2022 until July has been poetic justice for the pair: penance but no contrition, though Baker made a stab at repentance when he realised to some extent the damage he had done to British-Irish relations since 2016.

Using their influential positions in the satirically named European Research Group (anti-European and did no research), they were crucial in blocking Theresa May’s attempt at a deal with the EU, but instead backed the charlatan Johnson’s worst-of-all-worlds non-deal which required the Irish Protocol.

Thus, they imposed Brexit on the north, which the majority of people opposed, because neither of them knew anything about Ireland and cared less about the consequences. Then they shafted their DUP dupes who hoped for a hard British border in Ireland, arrived in the north to breach international law by breaching the protocol, but then ironclad the protocol with the Windsor Framework, doubly destabilising politics here.

Quite a record you might think. But no, don’t forget their imposition of the appalling Legacy Act, again with the satirical title ‘Legacy & Reconciliation Act’, supported by only one party in these islands – their own.

The paradoxical aspect of their involvement with Ireland is that they both did more damage in the six years before the dreadful Liz Truss foisted them on us than they did while they were here

In this last denial of justice they were aided and abetted by the third leg of the NIO stool, Lord Caine, unelected bag carrier and former Spad, who piloted the bill through the Lords.

From his speeches Caine is a reactionary unionist who has had a regrettable influence on and off for decades on what passed for the policies of ignorant proconsuls sent here, particularly in the last decade.

The icing on the cake will be that if this rotten government is defeated, Caine departs with the unlamented other two. Good riddance.

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