Undermining the British constitution?


Sir, – Ronan McCrea writes: “Most importantly, the key assumption of the British system that the government controls the Commons, and is, therefore, capable of taking key decisions, has been destroyed” (“Brexit may have just killed the British constitution”, Opinion & Analysis, March 20th).

It has never been the assumption that a minority government could control the Commons, and those remembering Harold Wilson’s third government can attest to that. So nothing has been destroyed.

Mr McCrea also refers to the Speaker of the House “citing a controversial principle of parliamentary procedure to prevent the government from seeking a third vote on the May deal”.

The fact that few can recall any government trying to bully a parliament into accepting an unpopular policy by continuing to raise it in a vote demonstrates that it was not the precedent which was controversial but rather the UK government’s blunderbuss approach to getting its Brexit “deal” passed. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Oliver Norgrove is only partly right in claiming that the Brexit dream was brought to its knees by the tendency to ignore the interests of Northern Ireland (“Why Brexiteers forgot about the Border”, Opinion & Analysis, March 20th).

The crucial issue was Mrs May’s loss of her majority in the 2017 election making her survival dependent on DUP support.

Had she kept her majority in Westminster, the existing checks on produce traded between Britain and Northern Ireland would have been strengthened – despite DUP protestations – and no-one would have heard of the “backstop”. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Congratulations to Oliver Norgrove for admitting that Brexiteers “forgot about the Border” when voting for Brexit.

On the same day, however, in one of the anti-EU London newspapers, the advice was to “stand firm” for a no-deal Brexit and to hell with the consequences. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – The mood music from Brussels is that the EU is only prepared to offer the UK a limited Brexit reprieve (“May will not seek long Brexit extension, says Downing Street”, News, March 20th).

Ironically, if Ireland holds its nerve, we stand to gain from British confusion.

When enough changes have been made to Theresa May’s deal to get it past John Bercow, for instance a new withdrawal date, the House of Commons will then reject Mrs May’s agreement again.

However, faced with going over a cliff-edge, the British parliament will finally take control of the process.

MPs will then move quickly to ask the EU for more time for a definite soft Brexit or a second referendum.

In such circumstances, Brussels, at last hearing something certain from London, will gladly allow a further extension. – Yours, etc,



Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Because of the totality of the close relationships between our adjoining islands, Ireland should not turn its back on Britain or gloat about its present difficulties. – Yours, etc,



An Charraig Dhubh,

Co Átha Cliath .

Sir, – The 2016 Brexit referendum question was: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

However, nowhere in that question was there anything about exactly when it should leave, which theoretically could be at any point in time, in other words even many years from the date of decision. All that the aforementioned referendum question determined was that a majority voted to leave, but no more than that.

Surely Brexiteers would want to be democratic, as they constantly say they do, and therefore allow the people of the UK themselves to choose from a list of options what in their opinion would be the best time to leave, rather than have parliament or the government make that choice for them? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.