The UK and a question of credibility

 

Sir, – Speaking this week about the British government’s intention to break international law, via its recently published Internal Market Bill, Boris Johnson said this provision is necessary as a “legal safety net to protect our country against extreme interpretations of the Withdrawal Agreement”.

So it amounts to an insurance policy.

Could it perhaps be called a backstop? – Yours, etc,

ELIZABETH HEALY,

Carraholly,

Westport,

Co Mayo.

Sir, – The idea of the “specific and limited” breach of an international agreement sits well with such other repugnant concepts of our era as “mental reservation” and “extraordinary rendition”. – Yours, etc,

JOHN S HOLMES,

Leenane,

Co Galway.

Sir, – Oh to be in Belfast! I’d take a trip over to Hillsborough Castle and put a brick through one of the downstairs windows. Of course it would not be my intention to put the whole window in, but rather only to cause some “specific and limited” damage. – Yours, etc,

KIERAN PAUL OSBORNE,

Madrid.

A chara, – Is it now the case that Britannia waives the rules? – Is mise,

MICHAEL O’CONNOR,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – As David Frost, the UK’s Brexit negotiator, is an avowed admirer of Charles de Gaulle, it is hard not to see one of the great Frenchman’s favourite strategies at work over the last few days.

The UK’s Internal Markets Bill seems to be an example of what de Gaulle called “kicking the flowerpot over”.

In other words, do something outrageous, make a huge mess, get everyone else upset, thereby strengthening your patriotic support and then eventually you emerge smiling from a game of tit-for-tat.

The only problem came for de Gaulle when in his later years his enemies and allies grew wise to his tactics. The Americans in particular realised in the words of the US State Department that “all his leverage comes from our over-exertion”.

In other words, don’t over-react, stick to your principles and see if the one who made the mess in the first place will back down.

Given that the UK Internal Markets Bill is unlikely to emerge from the House of Lords until well after the Brexit negotiations have been concluded, both the EU and Ireland would do well to stick to their present course. Any overly enthusiastic condemnation of the UK or premature ending of the negotiations is only going to play into David Frost’s hands and lead us into the Gaullist trap. – Yours, etc,

JOHN COTTER,

Ferrybank,

Waterford.

Sir, – The Kosovo war and the invasion of Iraq confirm that Britain is not troubled by the niceties of international law.

But suppose Britain reneged on its agreement to defend Irish sovereign airspace?

Who would rattle a sabre for us then? – Yours, etc,

Dr JOHN DOHERTY,

Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – The British government was very critical of the Chinese government for reneging on the Hong Kong agreement.

When it comes to Ireland, the British government has no problem in breaking an international agreement. – Yours, etc,

COLM Ó FATHARTA,

Dublin 6.

A chara, – It was rich to hear Mary Lou McDonald criticising the Taoiseach for not being tough enough with Boris Johnson (Dáil Sketch, September 9th). She should adopt a more direct approach by encouraging her party colleagues, Northern Ireland’s seven Sinn Féin MPs, to go to Westminster and engage with the British prime minister directly in the parliament to which they were elected. – Is mise,

JOE McLAUGHLIN,

Bonnyrigg,

Midlothian,

Scotland.

Sir, – Eton cred is soon forgotten. – Yours, etc,

ULTAN Ó BROIN,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.