Whatever the steps are towards an EU trade deal, don’t lose sight of what’s really wrong with Brexit.
Brexit is nationalism; it means viewing ourselves as so essentially different from our neighbours that we cannot stay in the same community organisations. It means viewing with suspicion people who would be our friends just because they have a different nationality or speak a different language.
Ministers, Brexit supporters and Jeremy Corbyn all claim that their version of Brexit should be about openness to the world, a welcome to migrants and a close and co-operative relationship with the EU. But you do not show openness by shying away from your nearest neighbours. You do not reduce barriers by creating them.
Nationalism is unavoidable with Brexit. Corbyn wishes to combine it with socialism while Theresa May might want to combine it with deregulation and turning back the clock of social progress. Either way, the forces of nationalism look set to win out.
It is of course good news that the deadlock with the EU over the Brexit negotiations has been broken. But after hearing European Council president Donald Tusk’s statement that the second stage of the negotiations can now go forward, it is patently obvious that he and other European Union leaders do not understand why the UK decided to quit their club.
Mr Tusk is said to be disappointed at our decision to leave the EU. Does he not realise that Brexit could have been avoided had he and his colleagues in Brussels addressed legitimate concerns over a number of serious issues — including, most importantly of all perhaps, the increasing problems arising from freedom of movement?
As far as any substance may be derived from Mrs May’s negotiations, the customs union, EU migration and the European Court’s jurisdiction will all remain more or less as they are now for an indeterminate period.
The final divorce bill will presumably be calculated on the actual extent of our breach of treaty obligations, so it is reasonable to infer that zero breach will accrue zero reparations. Is this an indication that we may expect the whole question of quitting the EU to be quietly dropped over the next few years?
The political establishment has triumphed in its aim to ignore the referendum result while paying lip service to it with “Brexit means Brexit”. I had hoped to live to see the day when the UK was a free, sovereign national democracy again, electing the people who make its laws. I fear now that I will not.
To hail Jerusalem is to fail Palestinians
Re your correspondents’ letters on Donald Trump’s endorsement of Jersualem as Israel’s capital [Letters, December 7], the creation of Israel in 1947 also created a Palestinian refugee crisis, the descendants of whom are still in many cases living in UNHCR Refugee Camps. These people are effectively stateless.
The Israeli military occupation of the West Bank since 1967 has placed millions of people under a system that grants them no vote and very restricted travel rights — and yet your correspondents argue that we should be prepared to take into account Israelis’ viewpoint.
Now is not the moment to place Jerusalem as capital until equal rights have been restored or a Palestinian state is recognised.
We have to build to solve the housing crisis
In response to your correspondent Chris Jones [Letters, December 8], the reason so many of your readers cannot afford adequate housing is we are not building enough homes.
Our transport infrastructure is creaking because, unlike our continental neighbours, we have failed properly to invest in it for many decades. The same can be said of our underfunded state health and education systems.
None of these problems exist because we have too many foreigners in our midst.
The dark danger of Westminster Bridge
Westminster Bridge has had half of its street lights out for several months and, with an increasing number of people using it at night in the run-up to Christmas, I predict there will soon be a serious accident.
It is so dark in places that people are often bumping into each other, and the lack of light means it can also be a possible crime hotspot for pickpockets or attacks. I cannot begin to wonder what tourists must think. Turn the lights on before it’s too late.
Sadiq steps in to aid walkers and cyclists
As Havering cyclists, we have been working for many years to encourage more cycling in our borough and while the public tells us they would love to cycle more, Havering’s roads are just too unwelcoming.
The Romford Ring Road is a good example of a scheme that was successful in its aim to allow motor traffic to move around the town but the needs of all non-motorised users had been completely ignored from the word go.
A key part of the new project is that existing subways will be replaced by pedestrian and cycle crossings at street level along with new bus lanes and public spaces. Not only will this help cyclists get access to Romford’s town centre, it will also be a major benefit to disabled and less-abled people not having to go up and down the slopes to get into Romford.
That is why we are very pleased to hear that the Mayor has agreed to fund some much-needed improvements that will encourage walking and cycling. We now hope that Havering council will make the most of this opportunity.
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London loses out in Champions League
Having qualified from tough groups, Chelsea and Tottenham — top two in football’s Premier League last season — will face Barcelona and Juventus in the Champions League last 16, while the Manchester clubs, City (third) and United, who qualified via the Europa League, get easier ties.
London’s teams are out of luck again.
Stop boozing and compete for Ashes
In his column [December 7], Dawid Malan says the England cricket team reacted to defeat by not going to the bar but “straight to the gym”.
Funny how we awoke on Saturday to yet another bar-based disciplinary issue. Can’t the players keep off the booze for a couple of months?
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