Brexit – deal or no deal?

Sir, – Brigid Laffan ("Three pragmatic steps to unblock Brexit impasse", Opinion & Analysis, January 17th) proposes as a first step "to get a no-deal off the table". This is also Jeremy Corbyn's precondition for talking to Theresa May. There is, in fact, only one way to get a no-deal off the table and that is to construct a deal that is acceptable to both the UK and the EU 27. No matter who says that a no-deal is off the table, it will happen if there is no agreed deal. The avoidance of no-deal will be a result, not a condition, of successful talks in the UK leading to an agreement with EU27. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Just a thought, but what will the DUP do when Scotland decides to remain in the EU and leave the UK? Will they have a backstop on their southern border and a frontstop on the Larne ferry? – Yours, etc,




Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Talk is returning to the possibility of a second referendum to solve the current Brexit impasse. If that should happen – and it is far from certain – and if the result of the first referendum should be reversed, we should be very clear about the consequences.

Over the longer term the return of the UK to Europe could lead to the destruction of Europe as we have seen it develop over the past 70-odd years. The UK has worked in the past with admirable skill and perseverance to diminish and negate many of the planned advances towards a united Europe. The euro, social policy, Schengen, have all been rejected. If the UK returns to Europe, not only will this steady process of destabilisation continue but it will be greatly reinforced by the crazed demands of the frustrated Brexiteers. With the many other current threats to the European enterprise, the future offers new fragilities. But these are surmountable with sensitive management and the normal evolution of events. A soft Brexit offers the best way forward out of the current British impasse. Even a hard no-deal Brexit can be survived after a very difficult short term for all concerned, and particularly for the UK and Ireland. But a return of the UK to Europe would set in motion a tide that would sweep away over the long term the foundations of Europe and leave in ruins the greatest political achievement of the last century. – Yours, etc,


(former Irish ambassador

to the EEC 1985-91),

Dublin 4.

Sir, – I enjoy reading Newton Emerson but wonder if in his most recent piece he is being unduly or conveniently hard on Leo Varadkar and his Government regarding the backstop ("The backstop has completely backfired for Ireland", Opinion & Analysis, January 17th).

If he feels we should trust Westminster and Stormont to understand the nuances of the Anglo-Irish agreement and therefore remove the backstop from the Brexit withdrawal agreement, he should probably consider that as soon as Westminster deems it unnecessary to be compelled by the Belfast Agreement, it is only a matter of time before the whole agreement is pulled asunder.

He says that only 13 of 105 conservative MPs have issues with the backstop. Frankly the fact that 13 conservative MPs know anything about Ireland and its politics, North or South, would astound me.

Add in the fact that Stormont is totally dysfunctional and the possibility that Boris Johnson could be the next British prime minister, and I would say now is not the time to place our trust in the goodwill of Westminster and Stormont.

I wish all well in their deliberations. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Could I suggest “Brexhaustion” as a useful term that captures our fatigue with respect to the Brexit debates? I for one am surely feeling Brexhausted. – Yours, etc,


Cambridge, England.

Sir, – If memory serves me correctly your editorial the day after the UK voted to leave the EU was called “A bewildering act of self-harm”. Insightful! – Yours, etc,


Straffan, Co Kildare.

Sir, – Ella Whelan writes at length about democracy and the Brexit referendum ("Brexit exposes elitist rot at heart of Westminster", Opinion & Analysis, January 18th).

She complains about being denied Brexit by the backstop and a reluctant parliament. But she then states that the only current “alternative Brexit” is the no-deal Brexit and complains that it hasn’t already been implemented. Yet she also says that a no-deal Brexit was not the Brexit she voted for. And it is clear that she is not alone in this. Then she complains about pressure for another referendum.

If what is on offer is not what was voted for then isn’t another referendum essential, especially when the winning margin was so small in the last referendum? Wouldn’t press-ganging a no-deal Brexit through the parliament be a travesty? – Yours, etc,


Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Ella Whelan writes: “At this point, anyone with half a brain has to admit that both the EU and the British government are hell-bent on getting British voters to do what Irish voters were forced to do in 2002 and 2009, and give them the result they want”.

Meanwhile, those of us fortunate enough to have a whole brain will recognise this sentence for the complete tosh that it is. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

A chara, – So once more the Orange card – this time in the guise of the backstop – is being played in British politics.

As always, many of those rowing in behind this tactic couldn’t care less about Ireland – north or south. – Is mise,



Co Wicklow