Brexit negotiations must go on?
Sir, – Where are Brexit negotiations going?
What has the UK government up its sleeve to negotiate with the EU? Maybe it is thinking of eroding Ireland’s connections as a member of the European Union.
Our Government must guard against any suggestion of checks at other European gateways. We are full members of the EU, with all its privileges and obligations. We honour those and should continue to do so.
Under no circumstances should we be sucked into agreeing to any suggestion that impediments or even inconveniences be placed on free movement of goods and people within the European Union, including in and out of Ireland. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As I understand it, the majority of the Conservative Party want to leave the EU, while their leader Theresa May wanted to remain, and the majority of the Labour Party want to remain in Europe while their leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to leave . . .
Maybe they should exchange leaders?
It is unlikely to solve anything, but it might simplify the problem. – Yours, etc,
ART Ó LAOGHAIRE,
Sir, – In his plea for respect during all Brexit debates John Aiken (February 15th) recommends the motto of the famous Enniskillen school Portora, “Omnes Honorate” (respect everyone).
Surely a quote from its most famous alumnus, Samuel Beckett, would be more apt for the British prime minister, “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on”. – Yours, etc,
Dr VINCENT KENNY,
Sir, – From the European and Irish point of view, a finite time limit on the current backstop agreement which keeps the whole of the UK in the customs union would give the UK the upper hand in future negotiations on the UK-EU relations post-March 2019.
An alternative is to have the whole of the UK constrained to the customs union for a finite time at which juncture, should an agreement not be found, the backstop would apply only to the North of Ireland. Although there is likely to be much huffing and puffing from a certain wing of the Tory party about such an arrangement and, no doubt, a furious response and accusations of betrayal from the DUP, there is much to commend such a plan.
First, it would reflect the preference of a majority in the North who voted to remain.
Second, I do not think it a great secret that many in Britain see the North as a burden they cannot afford, particularly when seen as the principal obstacle to healthy trading arrangements between the UK, the EU and the rest of the world. Surely such a plan would bring many more Labour and other MPs to Theresa May’s side than she would lose with the DUP, especially if the first end date was chosen to occur after the next UK election.
Third, in the end, many ardent Brexit supporters will see that gaining freedom while preserving the health of the economy is a vastly preferable option to mollifying a minority of the population of the North of Ireland.
Fourth, those folk who very much wish to see the North remain a de facto rather than a de jure part of the UK would be more open to compromise on the final settlement.
Perhaps, in the spirit of compromise, the EU could offer the UK that choice. – Yours, etc,
ALAN C NEWELL,