Brexit – the search for certainty


Sir, – Pat Leahy writes that the Government has a decision to make in relation to Brexit (“Ireland has yet to make its most important decision on Brexit”, Opinion a Analysis, February 2and). There are a number of problems with his analysis.

First, the negotiations are over and the backstop is agreed. The only people saying the negotiations are still open are those who want to re-open them, ie Brexiters.

Second, it’s not clear that deferring Brexit would get us anywhere, other than kicking the can down the road for a few years and leaving us having to engage with people who we now know are untrustworthy. Deferring risk means delaying certainty – if the difference is simply one of time, we might as well grasp the nettle now.

Third, the British government hasn’t exactly exhausted all available options. The same contradictory red lines are in place as before and Tory party unity has yet to be properly tested. They still have yet to move out of their political comfort zone. How is it is that the Irish have the moral dilemma before serious co-operation between the Tories and Labour has even begun?

Fourth, your columnist’s analysis presents us with a moral hazard. Just because we stand to get harmed by Brexit does not mean that the onus is on us to reconsider our stance. Such logic would basically reward and incentives threats and intimidatory behaviour.

Finally, Pat Leahy plays down the political damage a clampdown would do the Taoiseach, on the basis that it would supposedly be easier to trade an immediate risk of a hard Border for a deferred one. This is very fanciful. If the Taoiseach were to back down on such a principled stance in the face of British irresponsibility, selfishness, and bad faith, how could that not be politically disastrous for him? Does your columnist really believe that Irish people would accept a capitulation to the DUP and the European Research Group? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.

Sir, – Is it now a case of to Hell or to Brexit? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – The undiplomatic language used by EU mandarins in recent days puts me in mind of a man for whom the art of negotiation became his crowning glory, Nelson Mandela. “You mustn’t compromise your principles, but you mustn’t humiliate the opposition. No one is more dangerous than one who is humiliated.”

Perhaps Donald Tusk should take notice. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 13.