Boris Johnson and the backstop


Sir, – Rory Crotty asserts that we “gain nothing whatsoever by dropping the backstop now” because the “80-strong European Research Group...will continue to vote down the Withdrawal Agreement, even if the backstop is entirely removed” (Letters, July 30th).

If this is the case then the main benefit to our agreeing with Europe to drop the backstop will be goodwill. Ireland will not be the only country to take a hit if there is a hard Brexit. Many other European countries will also suffer.

If Ireland is seen as being even partially to blame for the failure to get an agreement with the UK, these countries might well feel ill-disposed towards us at the very time when we are trying to increase our trade with Europe.

If, on the other hand, we have have not insisted on the backstop, and as Mr Crotty suspects the UK government fabricates another reason to reject the withdrawal agreement, then at least we will have gained the goodwill of our fellow European countries, which will be of value when we try to adjust to the post-Brexit environment.

While some in the UK might be inclined to gloat over Ireland dropping the backstop, the many sensible people in Britain may appreciate our showing leadership and goodwill, which may also be of benefit as we try to build a new relationship with our nearest neighbour. If there is going to be a hard Brexit no matter what we do, the backstop will not prevent a hard border.

Our insistence on it will have been of little benefit, and may leave us carrying the burden of the dead Withdrawal Agreement like an albatross around our neck. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Alan Doyle suggests that a binding Northern Ireland referendum on “regulatory and customs alignment with the UK, or with the EU” could be an ingenious way of allowing the British government to “avoid the backstop and sign up to the withdrawal agreement” (Letters, July 30th).

However, as Rory Crotty rightly says, “the 80-strong European Research Group (ERG) . . . continue to vote down the withdrawal agreement, even if the backstop is entirely removed” (Letters, July 30th).

Mark Francois, the ERG’s deputy chairman, was very explicit about this in a recent BBC interview. “If there were any attempt to revive the withdrawal agreement, even without the backstop”, he insisted, “the ERG would vote against it”.

Mr Francois added that Boris Johnson had repeatedly claimed during the Tory leadership campaign that “the Withdrawal Agreement is dead. I believe him”.

The Brexit saga has moved on. The Withdrawal Agreement is dead. Realistically, the UK’s choice is now between no-deal (after a general election) and Remain. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – In Brexit terms, the UK should refer to the Border as the “EU border”, and the much-used phrase “Ireland and the EU” should be “the EU, including Ireland”. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – Joe McCarthy (Letters, July 29t) states that the British public “isn’t that gullible” to follow Boris Johnson’s “can-do bubble of empty optimism”.

Really? The British public was gullible enough to vote in favour of Brexit. This included swallowing Mr Johnson’s £350million a week NHS bus pledge and Liam Fox’s optimism that an EU trade deal would be “one of the easiest in human history”.

Gullible or what? – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Boris Johnson has pledged £300 million to the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in order to shore up the union.

This equates to around £30 per person. What will it be? A pizza or 15 minutes of counselling? – Yours, etc,




Dublin 24.