Brexit and Northern Ireland
Sir, – Boris Johnson continues to insist that the net transfer from the UK to the EU is £350 million per week, despite the challenge to his calculations by Sir David Norgrove, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority. If we allow for an overestimate by Mr Johnson of a third, the UK’s contribution works out at just over £12 billion annually, which is a mere £1 billion over the current annual subsidy transferred from Westminster to Northern Ireland. This includes the recent sweetheart deal of an additional £1.5 billion for Northern Ireland made between the Tories and the DUP.
Extreme situations require imaginative solutions. Were the UK to discontinue the Northern Ireland subsidy and transfer fiscal responsibility for Northern Ireland to the EU, the resulting savings could be diverted to the NHS, as Mr Johnson has promised. This readjustment would create a pathway for Great Britain to remain in the EU, subject to some agreement on the vexed question of immigration.
Viewed from this perspective, Northern Ireland is indeed the lynchpin in the current negotiations between Michel Barnier and David Davis. The DUP and Sinn Féin would be happy to continue to receive the subsidy from the devil himself, and if in the form of the EU, a far more reliable paymaster, so much the better. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The approach of Ophelia was reminiscent of Brexit. We knew it was headed here, we knew that it could only damage us, and we knew that there was darn little we could do about it! – Yours, etc,
PÁDRAIG J O’CONNOR,