(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
It was back in February that European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker greeted the Irish Taoiseach in his office in Brussels and proceeded, for the benefit of the cameras, to show Leo Varadkar a giant card from a well wisher bearing the legend: “Thank You From Ireland.”
As a smirking Varadkar looked on, half proudly, half sheepishly, Juncker pointed out the message inside, which, it later emerged, included the words: “For the first time ever, Ireland is stronger than Britain.”
For the Taoiseach, who’d ridden high in the polls for months as a result of standing up to the British – never an unpopular stance back home – it was a high point for Irish soft power. A weakened Theresa May had failed to get the withdrawal agreement through the Commons, but the Brexiteer “ultras” were weak and outnumbered, and a resurgent Remainer Parliament would soon stop Britain crashing out at the end of March without a deal.
Ireland was united with the other 27 nations. Stronger together, you might even say.