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Cool heads emerging from new Prime Minister's reshuffle will help us through minefield of Brexit

Published 18/07/2016

Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor
Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

The people of England and Wales made a huge mistake in voting for Brexit. The new bout of ill-concealed opportunism from the SNP tells us all we need to know about that.

But all is not lost. Perhaps the final blow for the economy - and, indeed, in the long term for the Union - would have been a Prime Minister Leadsom. But that unfathomable act of political self-harm has been averted.

The tide has turned and Theresa May's first words as Prime Minister promised a positive - and surprisingly transformative - agenda.

In Northern Ireland, the pro-Brexit stance of former Secretary of State Theresa Villiers was awkward and at odds with the wishes of the majority.

Her arguments seem to have been based on her loyalty to a Right-wing faction within her own party, rather than duty to her high office.

So, Prime Minister Theresa May showed sound judgment in accepting her resignation.

We can expect a more collegiate and constructive approach from new Secretary of State James Brokenshire. Furthermore, he is a close ally of the Prime Minister - extremely good news for Northern Ireland.

Clearly, there are massive economic, constitutional and Brexit negotiation pitfalls to avoid on the road ahead. In Northern Ireland, the position is complicated by First Minister Arlene Foster, who seems to be in denial about many of the challenges.

The Republic's Minister of State for European Affairs, Dara Murphy, on the other hand, already seems to have a sounder grasp of some of the complex problems now facing these islands, such as maintaining the precious Common Travel Area and protecting enormous trade flows between the UK and the Republic.

But, fortunately, many other cool heads will now emerge from a refreshed UK Government, from Belfast, Dublin and Europe. We can now hope to find a way through.

But only if Theresa May and James Brokenshire are supported and given time to consult widely and chart a clear, but careful, path forward.

JOHN GEMMELL

Birmingham

 

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