Brexit – a self-inflicted wound or a symptom of a deeply dysfunctional EU?


Sir, – The British electorate has spoken, and its voice must be respected. It is now for the Brexiteers to negotiate the best deal possible. When the details of that deal become available in two years or so, then the British peoples will be in a position to make an informed decision on what Brexit actually involves. Without prejudice to either side of that debate, it is surely just and proper that the electorate is given the opportunity to ratify or reject that deal. Otherwise the whole process is akin to buying a pig in a poke. On a decision that is of momentous importance for both the UK and Europe, it is surely appropriate that there should be another but different referendum in which the British peoples can express their informed judgement on the final package. – Yours, etc,



Institute of Irish Studies,

Queen’s University,


Sir, – As an English woman living in Ireland, I am dismayed by the ugly, insular and largely English Brexit politics. By way of contrast, at Áras an Uachtaráin last week I heard President Michael D Higgins give a speech resonant with the highest values of global citizenship, inspiring those present to strive towards a more humanitarian and compassionate world. I think it is time to apply for Irish citizenship. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – On Saturday the foreign ministers of the six original EU countries (Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) met in Berlin, and called for Britain to complete the Brexit withdrawal process as soon as possible. This request is neither surprising nor unreasonable at first glance, but what disappoints me is the meeting itself, which suggests that there is an inner circle of the original six countries discussing and negotiating issues without having all EU countries represented. It does not appear that the other EU foreign ministers were invited. If I am correct in this, perhaps it was sensible for Britain to leave. – Yours, etc,



Co Wexford.

Sir, – Selfishness supersedes solidarity. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – The United Kingdom is one of the countries that requires applicants for citizenship to pass a test showing sufficient knowledge of life in the country. In the “post-factual world” described by Simon Carswell (American Letter, June 25th), is it time a similar requirement was introduced for voters in all democracies? – Yours, etc,


Ranelagh, Dublin 6.

Sir, – Britain and Ireland have been in a relationship going back hundreds of years. We divorced about a hundred years ago but we came together again in the EU family. Now that our big brother has left this fold, I feel as if we have lost a dear friend. I hope we Irish can soldier on without them. I can only wish them all the best on their solo trip. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Regarding “EU must end the secrecy” (Opinion & Analysis, June 27th), well done to Colm Tóibín for spelling out the democratic shortcomings of the EU, and revealing the contrivance that it is, while identifying the positive aspects that a European collective has achieved and could achieve in the future. The vision of EU officials in chauffeured cars with tinted windows is hard to dispel. This is speaking truth to power at its best. Let’s have more, please. – Yours, etc,


Cummer, Co Galway.

Sir, – Amazingly politicians in England were shocked at the result of the Brexit Referendum. It shows what can happen when politicians and media lose touch with what the ordinary people are thinking.

It is now obvious that British politicians across the main political spectrum do not know what people are thinking on the ground and do not see the difficulties that have affected the people living all over England.

To say that voters were racist is pointless name-calling. There is clearly a disconnect between the politicians and electorate, and it poses a serious threat to democracy. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – There are some lessons for our politicians from Brexit. Watch for the law of unexpected consequences. Never ask the electorate a question unless you know the answer. Be careful what you wish for as it might happen. The higher you rise the further the fall. Keep an eye on left field and who’s behind you. Unfulfilled promises can bite you. Political careers usually end in failure. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – This week there has been an enormous amount of negativity and uncertainty, as well as an omnipresent fear of what Brexit means for Ireland’s future.

I believe Ireland will have a significant and positive role to play in the EU’s future if we decide to embrace it. We’re an educated, positive people with an outward outlook who integrate well abroad, as most recently evidenced by our football fans. It’s time to decide that what we want is a stable, forward-thinking Europe that supports all of its citizens and then ensure we all work towards that.

For those countries that remain in Europe, now is the time to support one another instead of listening to the divisive voices lurking within our own democracies. By working together, we can improve the EU and our contribution to it.

I, for one, will be taking my holidays this year in Greece. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.

A chara, – In light of the overwhelming negative reaction to their referendum result, ie economic uncertainty and political resignations, maybe the British electorate should take a leaf from our book and give it another go. It is entirely possible we might see a “Breturn”. – Is mise,



Co Carlow.

Sir, – Yet again we have the ageist slur thrown about that old people have ruined it for young people. When are Millennials going to get it into their heads that tweeting is not voting? Sorry, boys and girls, but you need to get off the couch to make things happen your way. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Relatives in Ireland are astonished that some members of my family in England have voted to leave the EU. My sister commented, “I thought all Irish people in the UK voted to remain”. This was certainly not the case with many Irish people I know, despite Enda Kenny and other Irish politicians coming here to persuade us to help Ireland without any regard to how it might affect the Irish in the UK to remain in the EU. They don’t live here. I have seen a huge increase, especially in the last five years, in demands on health, education, housing and jobs due to the ever-increasing population. It seems the whole world wants to come to the London area.

One important issue that was not touched on in the referendum campaign is the huge numbers of Irish-born living in the UK. Their families have Irish passports and so the grandchildren are eligible. My family members are still citizens of the EU, which would mainly be useful for travel and working in Europe. There is a huge demand for Irish passports now from those who are eligible, so awareness is growing. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – I think we are doing English people a disservice by thinking they only voted to reject their continued involvement in the EU based on the misinformation doled out during the referendum campaign itself. We should remember that no amount of political manoeuvring would achieve widespread agitation in the absence of acute deprivation.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there has been a shift in EU ideology whereby neo-liberal market values have taken over from social democratic values. This has resulted in a small number of people amassing huge amounts of wealth at the expense of ordinary citizens resulting in an enormously ever-increasing gap between rich and poor in Europe. The result is that millions of people in Europe now live in poverty and the English felt that any change albeit potentially worse was better than the status quo. I wonder what the percentage of Remain versus Leave would be if we had a similar referendum in Ireland. I think we might be quite surprised at the percentage that would vote against the perceived wisdom. – Yours, etc,



Co Laois.

Sir, – For me, the most informative reaction to the outcome of the Brexit poll is to listen to the People Before Profit/Anti-Austerity Alliance welcoming a working class revolt and describing the vote as a reaction to the EU’s anti-immigration policies.

Thankfully, we now know a great deal more about this particular political alliance in Ireland now that it has found common cause with its fellow extremist political groupings in Europe led by Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage and of course Donald Trump in the US. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – One has to admire the IT skills of Boris Johnson and friends. It would appear the EU now has 1 GB free space available for new applications. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – It’s democracy, stupid. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s brilliant analysis eases the pain of the Brexit tragedy (“Brexit fantasy is about to come crashing down”, June 25th). The silver lining is the likely emergence of Scotland – an ancient Celtic nation and our nearest neighbour – as an independent state within the EU. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Coming soon, the Boris and Donald Show. Looney Tunes? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Paul Gillespie’s “EU should prevent any Brexit contagion” is an unfortunate example of advocating that the stable door should be closed after the horse has bolted (Opinion & Analysis, June 25th).

Some of the population of almost every country in the EU has already been contaminated. The United Kingdom was the first state in which it reached life-threatening proportions, and in France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany it is reaching critical levels. The infection is due to numerous causes, some historic, others contemporary. A few, such as the democratic deficit is within the control of the EU; others, such as globalisation, are not entirely. I would argue that the majority of people want a social as well as an economic Europe. They want to be citizens of a Europe that provides them with the best-value consumer items that the globe can provide, but they are prepared to accept an inferior good as long as migrants are treated equitably and do not have to drown in the Aegean.

I want to live and work for a Europe that my children and grandchildren can be proud of, and not in a Europe that wants to punish its British citizens for throwing their toys out of the pram. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 7.

Sir, – I have little doubt in my mind that the Brexit was very much a self-inflicted wound by the EU. Whatever motives are ascribed to Leave voters, people who are prosperous and content do not vote for major economic change. Nor do they worry overly much about immigration, terrorism aside, in times of plenty. However, the continuing EU economic response towards any downturn in economic fortunes is austerity, an approach echoed by the current UK government. We have seen the ECB mercilessly insist on it in Ireland, then fail to co-operate with the subsequent banking inquiry. In the UK, since joining the EU, some areas have been devastated economically in the past and they now face austerity again, supported by EU policy. No wonder the arguments of economic Armageddon following an exit failed to convince. Those who suffer most from these policies have little incentive to vote for maintaining the status quo. Add to this Jean-Claude Juncker’s confrontational rather than conciliatory comments ahead of the vote, plus the unwillingness to give David Cameron any significant reforms, and we see that the EU played into the hands of those in favour of a UK exit. It seemed to be a mixture of complacency, arrogance and an aggressive call-your-bluff attitude that badly backfired.

If this attitude continues, and if the EU does not find a better answer in dealing with economic downturns, then there is further potential EU disintegration and a likely further rise in far-right groups and anti-immigrant propaganda.

But is there any real hope of a shift in economic ethos in the EU? Or are we stuck with the same response to any downturn or recession, despite its proven failure time and time again? I fear the latter and therefore more self-inflicted wounds and more disunion – politically and socially and economically.

The initial response to Brexit from some in the EU suggests they have their heads in the sand and blame everyone but themselves. I hope that the real lessons of this vote will be learned, however, and the reasons for dissatisfaction addressed. Yes, there is a democratic deficit, but in the main the EU needs to put its economic house in order as a priority. It needs to move away from failed austerity policies before it is too late. – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.