The controversial remark by Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, that there is a "special place in hell" for those who started the Brexit without having a clue how to deliver it, drew a stinging response from the former Greek Minister of Finance, Yanis Varoufakis.
He has his own painful experience with the negotiators of the European Union, who forced Athens to introduce a paralyzing austerity program in exchange for financial aid.
After hearing Tusk's last remarks, Varoufakis went to Twitter to say that the same place in hell might be reserved for those at the helm of the EU project who started the monetary union without sufficient planning and then huge bank losses. impose on the weakest members of the community. The devils are not much more fierce than that.
It also illustrated the danger of entering into this form of megaphone diplomacy. It is only too easy to get into a compelling spiral of sniping. International diplomacy can not be converted into an epic rap battle, where both parties commit insults in an attempt to knock the other knockout metaphorically.
That this is where the negotiations on the Brexit have ended, just seven weeks before Britain leaves the EU, tells its own story.
It was not just Tusk. Guy Verhofstadt, the EU's main Brexit coordinator, stated that Lucifer himself would not welcome Brexiteers because "they could even divide hell". Then the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saw a card he had received from a winner in Dublin, thanked the EU for its support and stated provocatively that "Great Britain is not about peace in Northern Ireland".
And all that was in one day.
It was also probable that the British government did not respond in kind, or that the situation now escalated into the mutual expulsion of ambassadors.
Some MPs and commentators from the back seat remained happy in the fight, but the only cabinet ministers who ventured to the bait were content with Tusk complaining because of his bad manners, instead of joining.
Leo Varadkar should pay attention and learn. He should certainly know better than to get carried away in this schoolyard. It was at a joint press conference with the Taoiseach that Tusk spoke those words about Brexiteers who went to hell.
Perhaps thinking that the microphones were out, Varadkar quipped lightly: "They will cause you terrible problems here in the British press, but you are right." To which Tusk, according to tradition that a man will rarely disagree if he is told he is right, reportedly "grinned" and said "I know."
It is astonishing that anyone who claims to give the possible consequences for peace on this island should reach an agreement that in the coming weeks would never be considered to make such petty stubbornness appropriate, or that they would not have immediately tried to calm troubled waters. by apologizing.
At present, what is a cool main image does not come from the leaders of the Irish government or the EU, but from different sources. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin responded to Tusk's commentary on Newsnight by warning: "It's time for people to cool the jet fighters." We need calm, reflective engagement. "The bet is too high."
With the anti-British sentiment in Ireland at the moment driving so fast – an online poll found that 78% of people thought Tusk was right about what he did, while only 18% said he was not – his interview showed an admirable willingness to take some punches for the greater good.
Sure enough, users on social media quickly accused Martin of cleaning up with the Brexiteers. "The days of the forelock tugging are over," a self-described assistant of Sinn Fein explained. "The Croppies are not." It would be funny if it was not that serious.
DUP leader Arlene Foster added her voice to those who calmly insisted and said: "Instead of saying insults, now is the time to focus on real diplomacy and solutions." She also – rightly – criticized those who let themselves be released about the return of barbed wire, watchtowers and soldiers to the border.
This is the great contradiction that is central to the debate on the exit agreement. Those who support the backstop most insist that their biggest priority is not to have a hard limit to threaten peace, but by insisting on a question that may not be able to be delivered, they can eventually bring about the very hard limit the backstop is meant to prevent.
An even greater irony is that those who warn the hardest after the Brexit for a return to violence are quite happy to usher in the recession of the Troubles era to do so. Have they never heard of self-fulfilling prophecies?
The ridiculous antics of Sinn Fein at the border, with actors dressed as British squaddies, and Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neilel, who took along sledgehammers to overthrow part of the hastily constructed wall, could be expected; but what excuse do the laundered graves have on more moderate parties to raise the temperature with war talk?
It is at best cynical and in the worst case highly irresponsible, especially with some influential MEPs who attributed this week to the German newspaper Der Spiegel that the protection of the EU internal market was their main concern and that, as peace in Ireland, the price was that you had to pay to protect it, that's how it will be.
As she raises the bet by the DUP as wreckers & # 39; To sue, Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O & # 39; Neill would do well to remember that there are many other forces whose stubbornness could bring a grueling ball into peace.
There are too many ways in which things can still go wrong in order to further endanger them with self-serving stunts. The failure to restart Stormont should have taught everyone that.
It is particularly telling that Donald Tusk was willing to take the risk of damning the atmosphere this week. The former Polish Premier was always regarded as one of the least frightened of the Eurocrats and asked if it was possible to see the UK in Europe after he had quoted John Lennon: "You may say that I am a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. "This week seems to suggest that he no longer dreams.
As in all divorces, the mutual accusation is sometimes too messy and there is no chance of reconciliation. It is still important to keep things civil for the children.
Whatever the final outcome on March 29, from "no deal" to the deal from May to no Brexit, there is nothing to gain from deteriorating relationships so badly that figuratively betraying the opponents of hell as a suitable negotiating tactic is considered to.