Unfolding drama at Westminster


Sir, – Prof Ray Kinsella (Letters, August 30th) is a lonely voice on your letters page with his interpretation of Brexit and the unfolding poltroonery at Westminster.

He is correct in one assertion, that the current withdrawal deal favours the EU disproportionately. This is not to be unexpected, however, in the case of divorce when the “leaving” party rarely gets the better end of the deal.

His implied assertion that the will of the British people to exit the EU somehow equates into the will of the British people to exit without a deal is stretching credulity far beyond reason. Does he seriously believe that the British electorate was perspicacious enough at the time of the referendum to predict what has subsequently unfolded? Would they vote for it again?

We are often patronised by politicians maintaining that the electorate is “sophisticated”. There is no evidence, from anywhere in the world, that this is in fact the case.

Electorates tend to be quite “unsophisticated”, in my opinion. The Brexit referendum is the apotheosis of this point of view. People voted for Brexit for a whole host of simplistic reasons, emotionally from a yearning for “a land of hope and glory”, selfishly because of misinformation regarding the economic benefit for their beloved NHS, to the darker elements of the British psyche in xenophobia. But possibly the primary reason is simple British arrogance. A friend of mine living in the UK for over a decade correctly predicted the referendum result by stating how the English, in particular, loved going to France and Germany for their holidays, but couldn’t tolerate being told what to do by Brussels.

Had the electorate been told, in simple language, the real effects of Brexit, from long queues at airport passport control, to the effect on their local Premier League soccer team being unable to sign players from Portugal and Spain and France with the free abandon of the last 25 years, to being unable to fill menial jobs currently being performed by immigrants, to being unable to go on cheap holidays to North America because of a drastically weakened sterling, the result of the referendum would, I suspect, have been drastically different.

The only “democratic” solution for the current impasse is to have a second, “honest” referendum, where the “freakonomics” of Brexit are clearly spelled out to the “sophisticated” British electorate.

Leaving the EU with no negotiated deal based on the sham of the first “dishonest” referendum would be wholly undemocratic. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Sir, – A majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, a majority of MLAs support Remain, but we have the misfortune to be represented in Westminster by DUP MPs who take no heed of the wishes of the people nor of the warnings of business.

Now these DUP MPs are supporting the prime minister’s proroguing of parliament, which will make a disastrous no-deal Brexit almost inevitable.

Brexiteers in England do not care about the outcomes for Ireland, North or South.

In the European elections, Alliance’s Naomi Long was elected with the greatest number of votes, showing that Alliance has a reach that no other challenger can match to secure Remain victories.

In the May local government elections, the Alliance surge saw it overtaking the SDLP, comfortably outpolling it by three to two across South Belfast district electoral areas – showing that there is now one clear challenger to the DUP.

Every day we hear of more issues that cannot be dealt with because the Assembly is not sitting. A majority of MLAs want to be doing what they were elected for, but the extreme parties are unwilling to compromise.

More and more people realise that only Alliance offers a strong cross-community voice and a determination to deal with social issues such as tackling segregation, racism and sectarianism. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – The indecent haste with which the Democratic Unionist Party has rushed to support the prorogation of the UK parliament to facilitate a no-deal Brexit has again highlighted the fallacy that this political party can in any respect be termed “democratic”. For over three years, the DUP has ignored the wishes of the NI electorate who voted to remain in the EU, as well as going out of their way to denigrate the considered views of NI businesses, farmers and the civil service.

It borders on hypocrisy for Arlene Foster to say that in this non-parliamentary and democratically suspect scenario, Mr Johnson can “deliver a sensible deal as we exit the EU” when, last January, the DUP spokesperson on Brexit, Sammy Wilson, commented that “NI farmers and businesses should be totally relaxed by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit”.

The DUP was the only political party in these islands to oppose the Belfast Agreement and in October last year, Ms Foster described the agreement as “not a sacrosanct piece of legislation”.

Historically the party has always been anti-Europe. One can safely assume that, in order for the DUP to achieve their twin goals of undermining the Belfast Agreement and damaging the EU and Ireland, the no-deal option has trumped the real prospect of collateral damage to the citizens they are supposed to represent. Indeed, it is now a moot point whether the Irish Government should continue in any form of dialogue with a political party that pursues policies that ignore such basic democratic standards and principles. – Yours, etc, 



Dublin 12.

Sir, – This week Donald Trump tweeted that Boris Johnson will be “a great one”. Tweedletrump and Tweedlenodeal? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.