There is a way out of Brexit difficulties but the answers have nothing to do with Boris Johnson

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I notice that you have printed an opinion piece by Boris Johnson (‘The only way to put things right on Brexit and avoid Suez is to ditch the backstop on the Irish border,’ October 13).

It is always wise to beware of Greeks bearing gifts, especially when the gift-bearer in question is an outrageous and politically unstable populist.

Theresa May’s likely deal will not be perfect, and I am painfully aware of the dangers of regulatory alignment for Northern Ireland only, should it emerge. The way back to stability will be tortuous, but the Prime Minister is trying to take the first steps.

The Chequers compromise, even incorporating initially modest regulatory alignment for Northern Ireland, saves the economy, indeed probably boosts it.

It also saves the Union in the short term, because the immediate danger to the union was always a second referendum in Scotland. That seems unwinnable for the SNP after a soft Brexit. Soft Brexit was always Nicola Sturgeon’s worst nightmare. So, in those circumstances, we at least live to fight another day.

But the long-term threat to Northern Ireland’s position in the Union in these circumstances would be enormous.

I take the view that Theresa May is actually trying to buy us some time, aiming for a final comprehensive deal, a few years from now, that removes the need for the backstop in all its aspects.

That should be the aim now, and there are millions of people in Great Britain working towards it.

The next general election, or the run up to it, or political events in the meantime, might provide a breakthrough.

As for the DUP, sadly it’s now time to say it, the DUP is badly losing its perspective and needs to come to its senses.

A common moderate unionist front is needed, to reach out to Northern Ireland and to rebuild links with political parties in Great Britain, especially, but not exclusively, the Conservative Party, to work for a comprehensive final EU deal over the next few years that renders the backstop unnecessary, and to seek maximum economic integration with Great Britain, even in the face of possible regulatory alignment issues emerging.

There is a way out of this, carefully and over time, but the answers have nothing to do with Boris Johnson.

John Gemmell, Wem, Shropshire