Brexit and Ireland’s future

Sir, – Given Christopher Hillidge's suggestion (August 8th) that Ireland leaves the EU and rejoins the Commonwealth I can only assume that he knows next to nothing about Ireland's history, or its economic transformation following its membership of the EU.

As an Anglo-Irish man who visits family in Ireland every year, and has also lived and attended school there, I have personally witnessed the change in the country from the early 1950s onward.

The Republic has prospered over those years more than any part of the United Kingdom other than the south east of England.

Which is the only part of the UK which Westminster regards as being vital to its interests.


That fact was made abundantly clear when the EU tried to bring in tariffs on cheap Chinese steel in order to protect the European steel industry, only to have it vetoed by the UK which was more interested in attracting Chinese investment to the City than people’s jobs in the provinces.

Mr Hillidge’s idea is tantamount to someone suggesting back in 1990 that West Germany should reunite with East Germany as part of the German Democratic Republic under the caring guidance of the Soviet Union.

The UK has made a colossal mistake, which is going to cause major economic damage to the country.

Ireland, on the other hand, has been handed an opportunity to benefit from that error and is already attracting inward investment and jobs as a direct result of Brexit. – Yours, etc,


Sheffield, England.

Sir, – I hope Fintan O’Toole is correct, and that the Government now has the upper hand in determining how the Brexit tragedy plays out for us, (“Brexiteers’ foolishness gives Ireland control”, Opinion, August 8th). However, I would urge a note of caution.

We must still play our hand with great care.

It seems to me that large and influential parts of the British people and political class see Brexit as akin to fighting fascism in the second World War. In other words, they have entered a realm beyond the rational, and are determined to see Brexit through to a bitter and successful end, come what may. To achieve this goal no sacrifice will be too great, and every hardship/cock-up along the way will be seen as an inevitable part of the process; as simply another thing that must be overcome. They will not lose heart.

The DUP understands this dynamic very well, I believe, and is in its element.

The British people and political establishment can be extraordinarily stubborn and determined when they want to be. Even after all Britain’s mistakes, it would be a huge error of judgment to underestimate it. If we do so, we may still easily end up as collateral damage in the unfolding Brexit process. The Irish Government should tread with care. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

A chara, – John Bergin writes that the UK is not “looking to put up barriers”, and “wants things to stay as they are.”

The UK has very clearly stated that in order to erect barriers to EU citizens, it wishes to leave not only the single market which allows our two countries to trade on equal terms, but also the customs union which removed the hard border from our island.

There is no hard border in Ireland only because the UK is in both of these legal entities, and when the UK leaves, the WTO rules that prominent Brexiteers seem so keen to trade under require that a hard border be re-instated to prevent trade distortion. The UK could get around this rule by leaving the WTO, but that seems unlikely.

Any changes to the border are driven wholly by the UK’s choices. If the hard border comes back, it will be because of the UK’s decision to end the legal mechanisms which made it disappear in the first place. Assigning blame to the EU for the consequences of a British decision, while a favoured tactic of British governments for decades, is simply not good enough. – Is mise,



Raglan Road,

Baile Átha Cliath.

Sir, – What an extraordinary letter from John Bergin (August 5th). And there was I thinking Britain had expressed a preference for exiting both the single market and the customs union. Indeed, it seems adamant that curtailment of free movement of people is a priority.

Perhaps Mr Bergin can enlighten us on how these demands can be achieved without the erection of borders and barriers. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 11.