Brexit and the Border

Sir, – "Hard border" is official code for many unpleasant fears we hide and worry about ("Strain over Brexit caused Taoiseach to refer to troops at Border, say aides", News, January 26th).

Leo Varadkar is to be complimented for unravelling the “hard border” code for those far from the history and troubles of this island. He deserves credit for pointing out the underlying nightmare we Irish know these two words hold and hide.

On the surface, “hard border” means guarding and defending with men, women and technology, the porous Irish/EU land border against abuses of the EU’s single market and custom union, in the event of a calamitous Brexit.

But “hard border” also means, in effect, a strengthening of the six-county union with Great Britain which might well be an excuse for those who revel in blood sacrifice to make a further push for the dream and the glory of national unity.


The Taoiseach moved beyond the code to explain a worrying national reality to some of our EU friends. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6W.

Sir, – How ludicrous to suggest that we may have to employ troops at the Border. They will be too busy guarding the ATMs. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – What a pity Leo Varadkar’s photogenic and personable appearance is so often set at nought by foot-in-mouth meanderings that are more in line with the kind of rubbish we would normally expect from a Sinn Féin source. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – Varadkar is an anagram of “aardvark”, which perhaps explains why he has to poke his nose into everyone else’s business. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – I read in The Irish Times that the gaffe by Leo Varadkar was caused by stress.

Perhaps all that overseas travel is taking its toll?

We know of one solution. – Yours, etc,




A chara, – John Lloyd (Opinion & Analysis, January 25th) argues that Fintan O’Toole has got it all wrong when he argues that Brexit is caused, in part, by a nostalgia for an imperial past and a tendency to blame the EU for all ills that afflict the UK.

Instead, he argues that Brexit was motivated largely by a desire to be ruled by their own parliament and courts which the British people can better understand and control – in contrast to a fundamentally undemocratic, opaque and unaccountable EU.

Am I alone in tiring of being lectured on democracy by the only country in Europe without a clear and written constitution, with an entirely unelected upper house of parliament, an unelected head of state, and an electoral system which can lead to wildly disproportionate results which renders many votes in “safe” constituencies pointless as they will have no influence on the overall result?

One can argue that the Brexit result was as much a protest against a UK political system which had successfully deflected all blame for its own failings onto the EU.

For once, every vote actually counted. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – It is a curious thing to watch Brexit from a Canadian vantage point, especially when the “Canadian option” is mooted by some of the ardent Brexiteers.

First, in 2016 the Canadian government strongly recommended that the UK should choose the status quo, rather than Brexit.

Second, in 2018 the Canadian government (with multiparty involvement) succeeded in ratifying a North American free trade deal (USMCA) – even with an “elephant in the room”.

Third, proposing the “Canadian option” in UK politics is not new.

It was originally proposed a century ago – not by the Conservative Party nor the Ulster Unionists, but by Irish nationalists, and we all know how it was received.

History is surely a curious thing. – Yours, etc,


Port Elgin,



A chara, – The British government agreed to the backstop in December 2017 because it saw it as an agreement in relation to Ireland, from which it could later resile.

The UK has discovered, to its horror, that it has concluded this agreement with the EU and that it cannot resile as it was, and remains, the weaker party. The EU will stand by Ireland. It will stand by a member state rather than by a departing state.

To do otherwise would be to undermine the very foundations of the European project. – Is mise,



Baile Átha Cliath 7.

Sir, – We wait to see how the UK’s parliament progresses on its Brexit votes.

At this point, should we not simply refer to “no decision” Brexit rather than “no deal” Brexit? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – I like Breffni Scally’s idea of Queen Elizabeth inviting Theresa, Boris, Arlene and Jeremy around to the palace for tea (Letters, January 26th).

Perhaps she might also invite Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Then, for the first time in her 67-year reign, she could experience the strange novelty of not having the poshest accent in the room. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 18.