Brexit and the Border


A chara, – Kevin Ryan reprises the favoured claim of Brexiteers that the UK is being “punished” for leaving, and also states that the EU’s doors are now “slammed shut and locked” (March 12th). Neither statement is accurate. Any EU state can leave via Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, but if they choose to leave, like the UK, they will lose the benefits of membership.

This cannot be reasonably considered punishment – giving up membership means giving up the benefits of membership.

The fact that British voters were led to believe they could keep those benefits after leaving is unfortunate, but does not change this fact.

There are no “locked doors” in Europe. Ireland could trigger Article 50 tomorrow and leave, if we wished to become a dependent satellite state of Britain again.

The only thing that has changed since Brexit is that populists can no longer falsely claim that countries can leave the EU and keep all the benefits they enjoyed as members.

Rather than blaming the EU for enforcing the rules that Britain helped to write, Mr Ryan should blame the Brexiteers who so dishonestly led the UK down the path to the cliff edge. – Is mise,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Cliff Taylor rightly notes how December’s joint report referred to the UK commitment to avoid a hard border, “including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls” (“May ducks the difficult question about the type of border”, Opinion & Analysis, March 10th).

Theresa May in her recent Mansion House speech adopted somewhat different language: “we have ruled out any physical infrastructure at the Border”.

Those last three words are important. They imply a readiness to erect physical infrastructure at locations away from the Border and in so doing renege on the December commitment.

Her position is the logical consequence of insisting that a post-Brexit UK, including Northern Ireland, stays outside a customs union with the EU and leaves the single market. It also reflects the misplaced obsession with technology and “smart borders” as solutions to the question of how to avoid a hard border.

Technology involves physical infrastructure and that has to be located somewhere. The customs dimension to the Border is simply moved elsewhere. – Yours, etc,



of European Politics,

Queen’s University Belfast.