The UK and international law


Sir, – We must resist the understandable temptation to react angrily. Instead, we should trust in our ever-reliable friends in the US Congress. Already, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has said: “If the UK violates that international treaty . .. . there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress”.

Boris Johnson is bluffing.

Ultimately, the British government will not dare to do anything that threatens the Brexiteers’ holy grail of a huge transatlantic trade deal. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – I note the birth of a new weasel word, “disapply,” a close relative of “disimprove”. It could be very useful, not having the pejorative overtones of renege, repudiate, backtrack, etc.

Alas, I foresee a bright future for it. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – The current controversy over the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement evokes comparison with a treaty the United Kingdom signed over 200 years ago.

On March 27th, 1802, the United Kingdom and France signed the Treaty of Amiens, in which both parties agreed to cease hostilities and strive for peace.

The renowned historian Andrew Roberts, in his recent biography Napoleon the Great, makes clear that both states saw this as an “experimental peace” and began to make preparations for the recommencement of hostilities almost immediately after the treaty was signed.

If one accepts the cyclical view of history, Boris Johnson’s apparent intention to renege on the agreement should come as no surprise. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 2.

Sir, – The UK says domestic laws takes precedence over international and that the UK can, without consequence, breach international treaties.

But the EU is a collection of international treaties.

For the EU, it just got personal. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – While I disagree with the UK government decision to breach a small part of its Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, I am sick of the pompous hypocrisy with which Irish politicians have gone on about “solemn” treaty obligations while ignoring Irish history.

In 1922, Britain and the Irish Free State entered into a “solemn” treaty, passed by both parliaments and registered with the League of Nations.

However, over the next few years Ireland systematically broke the terms of that treaty. You removed the royal oath, you created a republican Constitution which claimed sovereignty over Northern Ireland, you removed the Royal Navy from Irish ports and you failed to join with the rest of the Commonwealth in war in 1939.

I can understand the reasons for these events but they were breaches of a “solemn” treaty, so frankly Ireland shouldn’t get on its high horse with the UK. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – People in Ireland are all too familiar with the cycle of British bad faith undermining constitutional politics and strengthening the hand of those who advocate violence as the only means of achieving political objectives.

The EU and US must work urgently to ensure this is not the unintended consequence of British gamesmanship over the Withdrawal Agreement. – Yours, etc,



A chara, – If the British government passes its proposed Bill, as it appears determined to do, that will have consequences both logically ineluctable and politically possible.

First, in terms of international law, it will become an outlaw government of a rogue nation.

Second, it would then surely open to the Spanish government to bring in legislation rescinding the Treaty of Utrecht and demanding Gibraltar back.

After all, if London can break an agreement signed only last year, Madrid can say that one dating from 1713 is past its sell-by date.

They might well succeed, as Dominic Cummings, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (in that order of importance) will probably be in Washington revoking the Treaty of Paris of 1783 and demanding their colonies back.

Who knew that having a sock-puppet for prime minister with the real power in the hands of an unelected weirdo could go wrong? – Is mise,




Sir, – Is Boris Johnson’s “oven-ready deal” an oven-ready turkey? – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Much ado over Boris Johnson and his oven-ready backstab. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – While it’s easy and understandable to feel aggrieved by the actions of the British government in recent days, I’d ask your readers to remember that even in England, where this populist revolt gains its traction, barely half of the pollution support even the concept of Brexit, let alone a no-deal one.

Further, the vast majority of young people, the country’s future, are against the entire Brexit process.

In short, the British do not deserve this cabal which won significantly under half of votes cast in 2019 and yet rule as if it represents all 67 million people here in the UK. It does not. – Yours etc,