Brexit – more ‘Zulu’ than ‘The Italian Job’?

Sir, – Fintan O'Toole amusingly likens Brexit to the film The Italian Job and suggests asking the British people "whether they really wanted to explode their economy and their polity" rather than just "blowing the doors off" (Opinion & Analysis, January 2nd).

The British government made sure everyone knew the implications of voting Leave by distributing a booklet to 28 million households helpfully titled “Why the government believes that voting to remain in the EU is the best decision for the UK”.

It warned that leaving the EU would risk increasing prices, falling living standards, job cuts, loss of single market access, a falling pound, and so on. It was clear that a vote to Leave would succeed where Guy Fawkes had failed.

It concluded, “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide”.


A majority of voters (17.4 million, more than have ever voted for anyone or anything in British electoral history) decided that the advantages, as they saw them – sovereignty, control of laws and borders – outweighed the well-rehearsed financial and political disadvantages of Brexit and gave two fingers to the elite. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – My thanks to Fintan O’Toole on his excellent exposition of Britain’s Italian job.

Not a lot of people knew that. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole started the new year with a reprise of many of his articles from 2017 – namely that the UK is doomed due to Brexit.

In a lengthy metaphor, he compares it to the final scene from the 1969 heist movie The Italian Job, reckoning the vote by 17.4 million people in favour of Leave was really just a "you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" protest against the Establishment.

Concealed in this colourful narrative is the last line of the Remainers’ defence, namely a call for a second referendum.

However, rather like in another 1960s Michael Caine movie, Zulu, the odds are stacked against this.

Opinion polls show the post-referendum vote has barely shifted; indeed a YouGov survey shortly before Christmas showed the Leave gap has widened to 48 per cent.

This might be because the tsunami of warnings over Brexit has largely failed to materialise.

Figures for 2017 due out this month are expected to show economic growth of 1.7 per cent, meaning nearly every public and private forecaster got it wrong for last year.

Sterling has risen steadily against the dollar following its sudden fall after the referendum result and is stronger than most experts predicted.

Fewer people are unemployed than at any time in the past 42 years and manufacturing order books are at a three-decade high.

There has been no Brexodus of jobs from the City of London and far from foreign investors being scared off by the vote, inward foreign direct investment hit a record high in 2017, dwarfing every other country in the EU.

And Theresa May has confounded the odds by clinging on to power and steering the Brexit talks to the second phase, spite many predictions of failure. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.