Breaking the Brexit impasse

Sir, – Keir Starmer says the UK's Brexit "options are really down to two now: first is a close economic relationship [with the EU] . . . the other is a public vote" ("Theresa May running down the clock on Brexit, Starmer says", News, February 11th).

However, as Theresa May has flatly ruled out Jeremy Corbyn’s recent proposal of a customs union and single market alignment, then that leaves a second referendum as the only realistic choice left standing.

Indeed, a fresh initiative to break the Brexit impasse has already been put forward by Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, supported by prominent Tory Remainers, including Sarah Wollaston, Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry.

The new proposal is that parliament will approve Mrs May’s withdrawal deal in return for a guarantee of another referendum. The two subsequent options on the ballot paper in a people’s vote would be the British prime minister’s deal or remaining in the EU.


There could finally be some light at the end of the Brexit tunnel. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Anthony O’Halloran (February 12th) aptly describes Theresa May’s “hyperactive inertia”. Perhaps this is as a result of her being galvanised into paralysis? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 8.

Sir, – Tony Blair continues to wring his hands about the possible implications of a hard Brexit (News, January 24th). He’s adamant that it’s going to be “hard, very hard, really hard ”.

Such certainty from one who plunged his country into an unnecessary war in Iraq despite hundreds of thousands marching against same. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – Donald Tusk's reference to punishments in a position in Hell clearly refers to Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia (Inferno), in which Dante dreamed of the circles of Hell for those who died having offended against moral or theological commandments. The various circles were characterised by appropriate punishments reflecting the harm the behaviour generated.

In the Ninth Circle of Inferno (Canto XXVI), Dante meets fraudulent counsellors, including Ulysses. “Ulysses was a false counsellor because he used his wit to persuade others to do something evil by convincing them it was good”, as Rod Dreher put it. Dorothy Sayers wrote that these are “ who counsel others to practice fraud”.

I am surprised that anyone in Ireland, especially in the media, should consider it unacceptable that those in public office who abuse and betray that office by deliberately or negligently misleading people should not be worthy of condign retribution, if not in this life then in the next. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Eugene Tannam (Letters February 8th) presumably refers to the old ditty “From Hull, Halifax and Hell, good Lord preserve us”.

Of these three, at least two are in Yorkshire. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – We, the English, have no wish to destroy the happiness and wellbeing of Europe. After all, we went to war in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and we fought on in 1940 when France surrendered. The Dutch, Belgians, Luxembourgeois, Norwegians, etc, had all fallen to the Nazi oppressor.

Arguing with the Irish has now become like arguing with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (something I foolishly tried to do when living in Clifton Terrace, Monkstown, in 1968 when trying to watch the Varsity match at Twickenham). It is simply impossible. Their minds are closed minds.

We do not wish to destroy the peace and freedom of Europe which we fought in two world wars to preserve. We just don't want to be lectured any more by The Irish Times on what to think.

And we don’t want to be told by Fintan O’Toole how to vote. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 2.