Brexit – a question of time


Sir, – Is it just me, but surely it is difficult to see Theresa May achieving in three working days what has eluded her and all her advisers in over two years? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Many factors contributed to the current perilous and entangled state of UK politics. Failure of political leadership; disaffection with globalisation; a fear of immigrants, etc. One factor that is often overlooked is the electoral system. First past the post, in single-seat constituencies, tends to empower extremists and makes it almost impossible for national third parties, especially those of the centre, to emerge.

While some may lament it, the same electoral system that makes single-party rule increasingly unlikely in Ireland ensures that most of our politicians must appeal to the middle ground if they are to have any chance of being re-elected.

Compromise, seemingly anathema to both main parties in the UK, becomes the order of the day. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – “Overwhelmingly the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit”, says Theresa May (News, January 17th).


Eat your heart out, Donald Trump! – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.

Sir, – British prime minister Theresa May valiantly negotiated and tabled a realistic, if to many unpalatable, Brexit deal. 

All compromises are inevitably characterised by their imperfections, and any reasonable adult knows this. The silly foot-stomping should stop now. For over two years in Westminster, Mrs May has faced a relentless storm of peevish pomposity, obstreperous jingoism and parochial obduracy. Nonetheless, she remains admirably unflappable and continues to act in what she sincerely believes are the best interests of her country.

When the squawking, chortling and schadenfreude have subsided many will realise that the United Kingdom and the world require far more, not fewer, politicians of her calibre, grit and principled tenacity.– Yours, etc,




Sir, – The backstop is more likely to create a hard border on the island of Ireland than avoid it. The UK and the EU to date have spent most of their time and effort trying to accommodate the red lines set by both sides. Surely time would have been better spent agreeing and establishing an early transition period during which a free-trade agreement ( which would of necessity have to deal with regulatory alignment as well) could be negotiated.

The tactic of “holding our nerve” in the face of an increasingly likely hard Brexit, which will inevitably result in a hard border on the island of Ireland, is illogical.

A negotiation without preconditions is more likely to avoid a hard border. – Yours, etc,



New Ross, Co Wexford.

Sir, – In 2016 the then British permanent representative to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, estimated that it could take up to 10 years for the UK to reach a trade agreement with the EU. To judge from the current lack of any consensus in the UK, and progress to date, he may now seem overly optimistic. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – Denis Staunton claims that Michael Gove’s passionate attack on Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons on Wednesday was “cruel, tendentious and unfair” (“Loathing of Corbyn now the only thing that unites Tories”, Analysis, January 17th).

While your writer quotes at length Tom Watson’s good speech on behalf of the Labour Party, he unfairly sums up Mr Gove’s barnstorming reply in just two short paragraphs.

Mr Gove rightly pointed out that Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, hadn’t mentioned Jeremy Corbyn once. Mr Gove then proceeded to outline Mr Corbyn’s bad politics – not least his failure to defend his female Labour MPs from online vilification and abuse by the so-called Corbynista hard-left. The effect was devastating.

What was really impressive about Michael Gove’s speech was that it was delivered without a script. If only we had similar orators in Dáil Éireann. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – The relationship between Ireland and Britain is close and complex, reflecting our long shared history. Witnessing the sepsis spreading from the self-inflicted wound of Brexit, gradually stripping Britain of its faculties, including some that used to define it in the eyes of many observers (competence, credibility, decency in public discourse) is almost too painful to watch. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – You report the Tánaiste as stating that the existing rights of Irish citizens in Britain and of British citizens in Ireland will not change in the case of a no-deal Brexit (News, January 2019). As far as British citizens in Ireland are concerned, this is unfortunately not completely true.

When the UK leaves the EU British citizens will lose all rights as EU citizens. British citizens in Ireland may well continue to have the right to live in Ireland, but – unlike Irish citizens – they will no longer have the right to live and work anywhere else in the EU. Through Brexit the British government is quite deliberately reducing its own citizens’ rights – an astonishing act for a democratic government. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.