Bruce Arnold and a ‘ridiculous country’

 

Sir, – I read with dismay that Bruce Arnold has slated the Government for its position on Brexit (“Varadkar and Coveney acting like ‘fools’ over Brexit, claims Bruce Arnold”, News, August 1st).

The first line that absolutely baffled me was, “Whatever faults the British may have, they understand independence and freedom.”

All Brexit will achieve is to take away what little influence and independence that Britain still has in a world dominated by global economics. The pressures that will be placed on Britain by every major nation and trading bloc will turn Britain into a quasi-vassal state, forced to accept whatever the US, China, India and others dictate to them because international trade deals are like a game of trumps, the bigger numbers always win.

I fully support our Government’s position on Brexit not because I want a united Ireland. I don’t. Nor because I am anti-British. I am very much the opposite, but because far above any petty economic issues, Britain cannot be allowed to jeopardise the greatest, albeit flawed, political and social union in the history of Europe. – Yours, etc,

ROBERT CAIRNDUFF,

Cabinteely,

Dublin 18.

Sir, – Bruce Arnold has let himself down and his OBE down quite considerably. – Yours, etc,

PAUL SHERIDAN,

Lusk,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – In his bitter tirade against Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney in the Daily Telegraph, and reported by yourselves, Bruce Arnold stated that: “Whatever faults the British may have, they understand independence and freedom”. I would put it to Bruce Arnold that they don’t, and it is the Irish who have a genuine understanding of “independence and freedom”.

British (or more accurately English) notions of “independence and freedom” are rooted in the past, when Britain was one of the great powers with the ability to dominate much of the rest of the world. This was a freedom to do what it liked, which involved dictating its terms to others. But that time is long gone. Britain today is a middling-sized average country that isn’t especially important in the global scheme of things, but too many British have not adjusted to this reality.

After independence, Ireland soon understood what the practical limitations of sovereignty and freedom were for a small country, particularly the continued excessive economic reliance on the UK in the first decades. Ultimately we’re a small part of a big wide world on which we depend for many things, and over which we have little influence on our own.

Independence for Ireland has always been about taking its place amongst the nations of the world, which means mixing and participating and having its own seat at the EU summit table, at the UN, its own nominees in international institutions where it can navigate a sensible course in its own interests. Ever-faster technological advance and globalisation have only made the world even more interdependent.

This small country reality of “independence and freedom” has become the reality for Britain too, but it is proving to be a very painful adjustment.

With Brexit, the UK (population 64 million) set itself up in opposition to the rest of the EU (population 450 million), a mismatch in which British expectations were dashed, and humiliatingly so. Britain couldn’t “have its cake and eat it”. That the bruised British now try to take it out on Ireland, a smaller neighbour that it has historically pushed around, is perhaps unsurprising, but Ireland is remaining part of an EU club where there is strength in numbers.

It may be that Britain has to learn the hard way, and inflict pain on others in the process, but allowing it to persist with its delusions would be much more costly.

After 60 years in Ireland, Bruce Arnold is plainly out of touch with Britain’s changed realities, but when they haven’t sunk in with so many English politicians and Brexiteers, that’s hardly surprising. – Yours, etc,

JOHN FLAHIVE,

London.

Sir, – As an English person I am deeply disturbed by the developing rhetoric of the new government in Britain. It is evident that the objective will be to blame the EU – and Ireland in particular – should a no deal on Brexit become inevitable. Its “gaslighting” behaviour is beginning to be manifested in personal verbal attacks on your Taoiseach. It is inexcusable, as the great majority in Britain will agree. – Yours, etc,

FRANK WHATELY,

Esher,

Surrey, UK.

Sir, – One wonders why Bruce Arnold continues to live in a country he describes as “little Ireland” and “ridiculous”. He has been here since 1957. How can this be? Perhaps he appreciates our tolerance and good manners. – Yours, etc,

JUNE HOAD,

Kenmare,

Co Kerry.

Sir, – Bruce Arnold’s Daily Telegraph article exposes the sad truth that Mr Arnold does not consider Ireland and the United Kingdom to be equal as sovereign nations. He still thinks that Ireland should defer to the United Kingdom and what suits its interests rather than as equals.

The point Mr Arnold does not address is that, rightly or wrongly, the UK voted to leave the EU. No one in the EU made the UK have that vote. No one made the UK be so unprepared when the outcome was in favour of the Leave side. No one in the EU made Mrs May draw her red lines before she even knew the shape of the relationship the UK and EU would have after the UK completed leaving.

Any blame for the mess the UK now faces rests completely within the UK itself. – Yours, etc,

DESMOND

FitzGERALD,

Canary Wharf,

London.