‘Brexit: They never saw it coming’


Sir, – Bobby McDonagh repeats the myth that the British public, “were not told about the real effects of Brexit in 2016” (“British readying for Brexit: They never saw it coming, mate”, Opinion & Analysis, December 2nd).

In April 2016, the British government distributed a glossy 16-page booklet to all 28 million households in the UK warning that leaving the EU would cause years of uncertainty; economic disruption; reduced investment; job losses; increasing prices; falling living standards; loss of single market access; a falling pound, and so on.

For the avoidance of doubt, it was titled, “Why the government believes that voting to remain in the EU is the best decision for the UK”.

The Leave campaign was allowed no such opportunity to disseminate its views.

Bobby McDonagh adds that British citizens have lost residence and employment rights in the EU.

This too was made crystal clear in the booklet, but the corollary is that 400 million EU citizens no longer have the automatic right to live in the UK. – Yours, etc,


Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – I have a lot of respect for my former colleague Bobby McDonagh, but his opinion pieces in your newspaper, most recently on December 2nd, have a monotone quality which is forced and becomes tedious to read. He needs to understand and accept that Brexit has happened; it is over and done. Whatever the reasoning behind it, flawed and all as it may be, there is little point in harping on about the planks in British eyes; we need to remove the mote in our own.

What damage has Brexit done to the European Union? What weaknesses has it exposed in the way the EU operates and its structures and policies? What could the EU do better? What did it not do adequately to prevent Brexit? Yes, hindsight is perfect vision but it is also a valuable learning tool.

I see nothing in the McDonagh columns that indicates that there might be something rotten, or at least in need of urgent review, in the state of the Union. Where is the common immigration policy? Where is the common health policy? Where is the transparent decision-making? Instead we still hear about going into negotiating tunnels and the like, the opposite of open governance.

And, as we become net contributors to the EU budget, have we not a right to be heard – and to be respected – when it comes to setting our own taxation levels, without French pressure to conform to their corporate high-tax regime? Isn’t it time we stood up for what is important to us, our Irish values, in relation to a peaceful and united Europe project, with more emphasis on a socially responsible Europe?

I see little or no evidence of any deep reflection or longer-term strategic thinking being given to our own wishes on the future of the European Union in your columns. So, Bobby, please stop the sniping attacks on our neighbours, which serve no purpose beyond your own catharsis, and get with the future.

TK Whitaker is sadly missed.– Yours, etc,


(Former Ambassador

of Ireland to Lithuania,

Belarus and Finland),


Co Dublin.