Brexit and the shadow of Brexentricity


Sir, – Fintan O’Toole is rightly being widely lauded for his interpretation of the background to Brexit. However, I must take issue with him over the notion that English eccentricity as personified by Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg was one of the factors in its development (Opinion, February 19th).

The link between Johnson and Rees-Mogg is not eccentricity (neither is eccentric: both are supreme actors) but their schooling at Eton, an education shared by David Cameron, who brought the house down by calling the referendum in the first place.

An Eton education has traditionally provided an aura of authority for those who emerge from its system, regardless of how stupid or lazy they are.

Cameron’s failure to prepare for the referendum, and Johnson and Rees-Mogg’s failure to plan for a successful Brexit are symptoms of a notion of superiority that they should give orders while the drones can find a way to get them out of the mess thus created. Another Old Etonian, the late Alan Clark, famously used the expression “lions led by donkeys” to describe the slaughter of British soldiers in the first World War due to the bungling of their public-school educated generals.

I have no doubt that Brexit is a 21st century replication of this phenomenon.

George Orwell, who Fintan also cites in his article, was also an Old-Etonian but one who threw off his cloak of superiority.

In his dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, Orwell uses a quote which might be emblematic of Theresa Mays’s upcoming Brexit Day, March 29th, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Why does the Irish Government take a stance on the withdrawal agreement that is likely to result in no deal and thus the certainty of a hard border?

I am English. I want to see a fair deal which results in continuing free trade between our countries and a peaceful future.

I don’t have a problem with Ireland becoming a single nation, if that decision is taken in accordance with the Belfast Agreement.

The UK and Ireland have had a friendly relationship in recent years. I hope that this will continue. – Yours, etc,


Great Stretton

Leicestershire, England.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole spends much of his article (Opinion, February 19th) discussing “English eccentricity” in relation to the vote for and continued support for Brexit.

It could be argued that it was not English eccentricity but contempt by the Brexiteer majority for their European neighbours and especially for the citizens of this democratic republic and former colony that motivated the vote for Brexit.

All one has to do is read much of the present day London media.

And we have to realise that much of this present day London media is just a continuation of decades of anti-European propaganda denigrating European efforts at co-operation.

The EU is the most advanced effort at international co-operation in the world.

It is an attempt by European democracies, many of them former colonies, to ensure that there is no return to the divisions of the past.

Brexiteers have torn up this agreement and also have torn up the Belfast Agreement signed with this former colony to draw a line under centuries of colonial rule.

In terms of European co-operation, Brexit is indefensible and to even mention the word eccentricity in that regard is complacency writ large. – Yours, etc,


Sutton, Dublin 13.

Sir, – I note that Fintan O’ Toole fails to include the leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn in his list of English eccentrics (Opinion, February 19th).

Mr Corbyn might not qualify as an “upper-class male” but much more worrying is his eccentric quixotic approach to Brexit where he is prepared play Russian roulette with the future of millions of UK citizens for party political reasons. – Yours, etc,


Clontarf Dublin 3.

Sir, – China and Japan have both let the DUP/ERG/Tory axis down in the last week following a change of heart.

Brexity Britain is obviously weaker than Remain Britain inside the EU and future trade negotiations will reflect this. Brexit is senior hurling in several dimensions.

One of the big pieces of work outstanding before the UK leaves the European Union is the legal task of replacing references to EU law in UK legislation with UK law. Perhaps Murphy’s Law would be more appropriate as the wheels fall off the chariot. Brexit will get a lot worse before it gets worse. Someone has to explain this to Ballymena. – Yours, etc,


Ollon, Switzerland.