Britain’s motives on Border proposals


Sir, – There are various interpretations of Britain’s negotiating ploy on the Irish Border. Unionist leaders are easily persuaded there will be a “frictionless” Border. Others, more realistic, foresee a hard Border disaster.

Stephen Collins argues that the “inevitable reality of land Border must be accepted”, and (like unionists) he dismisses Leo Varadkar’s sea border proposal as a “publicity stunt” (“Ireland needs to reject the fantasy of no hard Border”, Opinion & Analysis, August 17th), but this is defeatist and mistaken. However, he is right that the EU and the Irish Government would have to secure the border of the EU’s single market. Hence despite creating the need for this Border, the British can wax lyrical about not wanting it, hoping the EU and Dublin will get the blame for the subsequent disaster. The British do want to control immigration, but Britain too is an island and they can do that at their own ports and airports.

But have they deeper motives? The leaky land Border is completely unfit for purpose.

However, the UK being in a customs union with the EU would remove the whole Border problem at a stroke. It wants some new form of customs union which gives access to the EU’s single market and also permits its own trade deals – “having their cake and eating it”.

Attempting to achieve that, are they holding Ireland hostage, including Northern Ireland as the unionists will realise if or when Britain’s ploy fails? – Yours, etc,


Mitchell Institute,

Queen’s University Belfast.

Sir, – British proposals in relation to the “soft” Irish Border as a consequence of Brexit is glorious hypocrisy.

Brexit is a vote to leave the EU and to discontinue free trade and free movement of people across the border between the UK and the EU.

As such it is a declaration of economic war on the people of this Republic.

As has been the case for centuries of colonial rule, we are not in a position to do much about it.

All we can do is put up with the consequences, and a “soft” Border is not one of them. – Yours, etc,


Sutton, Dublin 13.

Sir, – As the British dismantled and reordered their empire, the imperial cartographers went to work, drawing straight lines across deserts, wiggly ones through countries and subcontinents and providing the world with most of the major conflict hotspots in the intervening years.

How fitting it is, therefore, that those deluded members of the British cabinet now seeking to launch the British Empire 2.0 should find their efforts so frustrated by one of those pesky wiggly lines across this island. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Would all the people who think that the current chaos in the UK is an opportunity to reunite Ireland please stop? It only needs a few seconds of thought for them to grasp the real consequences of such a proposal – in financial terms.

We can’t afford Northern Ireland.

That’s it, pure and simple.

The UK pumps an obscene amount of money each year into the area, with no sign that it will ever diminish.

This is quite apart from the extra funds extracted from Theresa May by the DUP recently to prop up the UK government.

I have nothing against Northern Ireland as such, but my taxes are high enough now and I don’t want more, thank you. – Yours, etc,




Co Wexford.

Sir, – Some of the UK’s negotiating tactics are now clear. First, the UK will make vague and incoherent suggestions, hoping to prompt the EU to respond with clearer ones, but based on the same assumption, that there will not be free trade between the two parts of Ireland, or between the UK and the EU. Second, the UK will say that there is no need for customs controls on goods exported from here into Northern Ireland – and that if the EU insists on controls on imports from Northern Ireland, that is not the UK’s fault.

There is a solution. The Irish Government could say that it will veto any arrangement not based on a free trade area, like the European Economic Area. That kind of agreement would allow the UK to make trade agreements with other countries around the world, and maintain free trade between the UK and EU, and so between the two parts of Ireland.

There would still be a need for rules of origin controls, but that would be relatively unimportant.

No other arrangement offers more advantages, or fewer disadvantages. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – Stephen Collins is to be commended for bringing clarity and a dose of realism to the hard Border/soft Border debate.

Of course there will be a hard Border, and anything less would defeat the purpose of Britain exiting the EU. Instead of hand-wringing and wishing it wouldn’t happen, Irish planners should be preparing the Irish economy for the benefits (and they are considerable) that Britain vacating the EU will bring.

Brexit offers Irish producers a windfall opportunity to displace UK imports into this country and to the wider EU. Investment should be diverted away from Dublin port and focused on the southeast ports of Rosslare, Waterford and Cork.

For political reasons the Irish Government may want to appear to soften the Border, but it should be quietly preparing ways that discourage Southern shoppers from casually crossing the Border. The shopkeepers of Dundalk will not thank them for doing otherwise. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.