Brexit and the backstop


Sir, – I would tend not to agree with Newton Emerson’s criticism of Leo Varadkar (“Doubts over Leo Varadkar’s good faith on backstop”, Opinion & Analysis, September 5th). I think the Taoiseach has by and large been temperate, considered and measured in his approach. If anything, Simon Coveney has been even more impressive.

Living close to the Border I am conscious of the potential economic catastrophe to Co Fermanagh and other Border counties in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The only Tory party member who bothered to visit this part of the world to find out for himself was Rory Stewart, who reflected on his visit during the Tory leadership election. It is therefore disingenuous for Brexiteer politicians to express their deep concern for Northern Ireland because there really is little interest in our plight, and that is understandable.

As for the DUP and Sinn Féin, history will not judge them kindly as they have indulged in dogma and opportunism to the detriment of their own people.

While my preferred position is to remain in the EU, I feel the only realistic outcome in this present impasse is for the Westminster parties to return to Theresa May’s withdrawal Bill with an “NI only” backstop, if necessary, and to pass it as soon as possible. Both sides could begin to negotiate a future trading agreement immediately, and on conclusion by consent, the backstop could be revoked.

Northern Ireland is different to the rest of the UK, otherwise why would the Belfast Agreement have been necessary?

There is still time and a means of getting out of this terribly toxic situation, but certain egos may suffer. – Yours, etc,



Co Fermanagh.

Sir, – Turlough O’Connell in his letter (September 2nd) seems to feel that the lack of sophistication of the UK electorate justifies asking it to vote in a second referendum. I share his view on electorates. Indeed I cannot think of any electorate, including our own Irish one, which has invariably made wise and correct decisions.

The key point for me, however, is that if you are going to have a democratic decision, then it is the prerogative of the voters to make whatever decision they wish, however unwise or stupid that decision may seem to us sophisticates. They are grown-ups. As for making the consequences of a decision clear “in simple language”, it was entirely open to the extremely well-resourced Remain campaign to do just that. Did it do so, and if not why not? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – Has the time come for Ireland to offer a a break clause in the backstop in return for a referendum in the six counties for Northern Ireland to remain in the EU, while remaining in the UK? – Yours, etc,




Co Dublin.