I read Caroline Lucas’s heartfelt exposition (2 July) of the very concerning trade deal talks, which in any other time would take precedence over everything else. But these, as we are so often told, are unprecedented times and our future trading negotiation has somehow been downgraded to a little local difficulty with Brussels and the EU.
I cannot conceive of a more shortsighted measure from our government not to request an extension to the transition period. She is absolutely right that this is a kamikaze game of chicken and this time I very much doubt if this strategy will work. Britain will end up with a disastrous no-deal result.
Also, giving David Frost another high-profile job does send out the message that he can handle both, with his hands tied behind his back. This is a dire time for our beleaguered country which is now having to dance to the tune of the ultra-Brexiteers who are shamefully pulling the rug away from our now decimated economic future, which with the ongoing pandemic fallout, as Lucas states, will affect our young people greatly.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Not convinced by Johnson’s green promise
I appreciated Caroline Lucas’s piece, where she flags how European Union regulation has benefited us over many years. It is no coincidence that it was in 1973 that my father’s wire manufacturing firm in Cleckheaton was forced to introduce a new process to deal with acid swillings from the initial cleaning of the wire. No longer could we allow these swillings to run down the drain, but instead they had to be neutralised with lime and compacted into a “cake” which could safely be disposed of in landfill. There was a cost to this new regulation, but it was the right thing to do, and it was thanks to a Conservative government that we did it.
It is no coincidence that, over subsequent years, the local River Spen became much cleaner. Had I been six months older, I could have added my vote to the majority that, thankfully, voted to stay in the then EEC under a Labour government in 1975. I’ve always been a floating voter, but, like many, I’ve been dismayed in recent years by the rise of populist promises and the preference for Britain going it alone.
So, I’m not at all convinced by the prime minister’s promise of making the UK “the cleanest, greenest country on Earth”. While wire drawing is no longer the industry it used to be in Cleckheaton, I’d like to think that we could build on the advances of the past rather than squander them.
Reverend Peter Sharp
We need Black Lives Matter
The Holocaust was a horrific outrage and is still having repercussions throughout the western world. The Jews have been persecuted and still bear the scars of that event, but are a coherent voice in many countries.
Almost in the same league, but centuries earlier, we had the slave trade. In 1619, the first black Africans, snatched from their homes, arrived in Virginia, then a British colony. In the following 200 years some 12 million human beings were transported in conditions that killed some, to arrive in the Caribbean and southern states of the USA, to be slaves. In 1833, after reaping so much benefit from black slaves, this country (the UK) finally made the slave trade illegal. Then followed segregation, discrimination, and prejudice – such that in the 1930s millions of black people migrated from the southern states of the USA to northern cities.
Today we still need Black Lives Matter to bring attention to the continuing plight of black people. Perhaps this movement now has the momentum to bring about the necessary actions and not simply more commissions.
Medical scientists from Sweden’s leading university, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, have produced research indicating that public immunity to Covid-19 is “significantly higher” than antibody tests have suggested. From a public health perspective this is very good news and comes at a time when the usual suspects look likely to kick-start a new wave of hysteria about a return of the coronavirus at the end of this year.
It’s even better news for the economy since we cannot afford a lockdown every time we are visited by a viral infection. The global death toll from Covid-19 looks as if it will be around that of the 1950s/1960s flu pandemics in spite of the world population having doubled. Future historians will struggle to see this outbreak’s impact except for our disastrous response which wrecked our underskilled workforce’s prospects.
Dr John Cameron
St Andrews, Scotland
Belfast tunnel hopes
The concept of the rail tunnel link to Belfast should be high on the government’s agenda. Such a project is crucial to post-coronavirus and post-Brexit competitiveness.
Such a project will necessitate the reinstatement of the Port Road line in southwest Scotland and that will be an economic boon in itself – and popular.
Freight will be able to board trains directly at Belfast and proceed direct to London – and continental Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
All in all, the UK will be a more attractive place to invest in. However, to reap the economic rewards it is crucial that the UK takes a leaf out of China’s book and completes the schemes in the space of a few years rather than decades.
Pulborough, West Sussex
Leader without a clue
John Rentoul stole, in his article, my thunder! I’m not unhappy, as I was going to write in much the same vein as him, so I guess I’ll say well done John and I’ll make just one point.
One skill a leader needs is the ability to see a new way forward and lead people to that way. However, my personal experience of trying to be a good leader quickly taught me that unless concrete, recognisable steps quickly follow any leadership declaration, people very quickly think that the leader is full of good ideas but doesn’t have a clue how to implement them.
Regrettably, I think Boris Johnson is rapidly becoming this type of leader (if he wasn’t already as mayor of London). This does not bode well for the rest of us, who I think are becoming sick of three-word promises and would much rather see concrete and less trumpeted steps to our future.