Readers Prof James Anderson, Mike Pender, John Ellis, David Reed, Phil Beyer and Mike Gogan air their views on Brexit

Fintan O’Toole convincingly argues that Britain’s negotiating ploy on the Irish border is really “an early move in the blame game” (Britain’s offer to Ireland is absurd and irresponsible, 17 August). Theresa May’s DUP allies are easily persuaded there will be a “frictionless” Irish border, but most people fear an unworkable, “hard” border disaster. Despite creating the need for this border, cynical Brexiters can wax lyrical about not wanting a hard border, knowing the EU and the Irish government will have to try to secure the border of the single market. The leaky land border is completely unfit for purpose, and they hope Brussels and Dublin will get the blame when disaster occurs. The British want to control immigration but that’s better done at Britain’s ports and airports.

But do the Brexiters have more malign motives? If the UK were in a customs union with the EU, the latter’s Irish border problem would be removed at a stroke. The Brexiters want a new type of customs union that not only gives access to the single market but also permits making their own trade deals. To get this unprecedented customs union, are they holding Ireland hostage, including Northern Ireland as Democratic Unionists will realise if or when Britain’s ploy fails? And/or are the more extreme Brexiters (maybe in a deal with Trump’s regime) hoping to engineer an early exit which would seriously damage the EU as well as Ireland? It’s a conspiracy theory, but some of these people thrive on conspiracy.
Prof James Anderson
Mitchell Institute, Queen’s University Belfast

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