Britain and the backstop
Sir, – In her opinion piece, Helen Thomas (“Scottish court plays into Johnson’s hands”, September 12th) claims that Boris Johnson plans to “weaponise the backstop” by leaving the EU without a deal and refusing to police a border on this island. That strategy revolves around the idea that Ireland would be forced to choose between the UK and the EU, that Ireland would be forced to defend the EU single market and erect a border. Mr Johnson would then portray the EU as the bully of this sketch.
The argument is based on two misapprehensions relating to our level of trade with the UK and our priorities at the border. First, given that only 11 per cent of our total exports go to the UK, a fraction of that sent to the EU, choosing between the two is not pleasant. but the decision is brutally obvious. Second, given that almost all agri-food emergencies arising here in modern times have ultimately arrived from Britain, often carried by illegally imported animals, it is obvious our Government would be eager to erect border controls to prevent future occurrences. Veterinary and phytosanitary imperatives would force a border, not the EU. This situation would not be welcomed here with any enthusiasm – except, perhaps, by our farming lobby. Food for thought indeed. – Yours, etc,