Opinion

So what is really going on in the mind of Theresa May?

Why did the British Prime Minister Theresa May press the button on a general election this week? There are no obvious political reasons for her having to do so.

The Labour party is in total disarray and there is no prospect of the Conservatives losing their grip on power up to the scheduled date of what should have been the next national poll in 2020.

I get a sense though, that Mrs. May is now fully aware of the carnage that any sort of Brexit deal will wreak on the British economy.

The EU has already said that it wants a divorce payment of €60 billion. OK; this figure could be well watered down once negotiations are completed. But it will still end up being many multiples of the net €5 billion currently paid into the EU’s coffers by the UK on an annual basis.

I also get the feeling that every industry leader in Britain has told the mandarins in Whitehall that Brexit is a ‘poisoned chalice’ which the British economy will have to drink, should it come to pass.

Many of the international banks are already hinting at their intention to move their operations out of London. And if this happens, there is every likelihood of the British economy going into a tailspin.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s agri-food sector can look forward to the kicking of a lifetime, once any form of Brexit deal is signed off on.

But just hold that thought for a moment. Let’s say that Theresa May gets through the June 8 election with a reduced majority. What happens then?

At that stage, she has the option of calling a second EU membership referendum – conveniently at a time when the current Brexit negotiations are still at an embryonic stage. They say that a week is a long time in politics.

Given that a year has passed since the initial referendum, the British public might well have reflected on the public utterances of Nigel Farage and others of his ilk, who seemed to backtrack on many of the assertions they made in the run-up to last year’s vote, just as soon as the result was announced.

And if this were to come to pass, then the Brexit negotiations could become the means by which the UK could seek changes to the EU that really reflect the wants and desires of the British public, rather than the country picking up its ball and leaving the field of play.

Seems a bit far-fetched? The next few weeks will tell the story. But if Mrs. May needs advice on how to organise a second referendum, she only has to phone the Taoiseach’s office. Ireland is a past master on the matter.

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