ES Views: The EU won’t let us just have our cake and eat it

PM Theresa May greets European Council president Donald Tusk at Downing Street in April this year: Getty Images
PM Theresa May greets European Council president Donald Tusk at Downing Street in April this year: Getty Images

Tom Bradby rightly foresees a Brexit crisis ahead but he misunderstands the nature of it [“The clock’s ticking, and if there’s no deal all Brexit bets are off”, Comment, October 30].

The question, he suggests, is whether the EU will “put politics above economics” by refusing to “give us a version of what we want”. But it is increasingly clear that what we want is to enjoy the benefits of EU membership without the obligations — and if the EU was to grant us this it would destroy its political model as well as its economic one.

The EU is a collaborative democratic venture that depends upon respect for common obligations — notably the four freedoms of goods, services, capital and movement.

The choice will indeed be between a deal in which Britain seeks to replicate what it already has (while giving up control) or no deal at all. At that point, says Bradby, Parliament might “lose patience and go back to the public”. I hope it will — or better still, that it will exercise its own sovereignty by demanding that the Government withdraw Britain’s Article 50 application.

People did not vote last year to make themselves poorer or to diminish Britain’s international reputation and influence.
Anthony Cary, former ambassador to Sweden

Tom Bradby is right to highlight the uncertain outcome of Brexit’s legislative journey through parliament but wrong to think a deal with the EU is possible. The Prime Minister, weak and tarnished following the snap election in June and infighting within the Conservative Party, cannot accede to demands for billions of euros in exit fees and will be unable to progress to making a decent trade deal.

Brexit is an aberration which should be halted when the negotiations break down, followed by a confirming general election. It’s usual to read the menu when visiting a restaurant but all the electorate had was a delusional Brexit bus implying a gourmet feast, when in reality the most indigestible gruel was really on offer.
Michael Desmond, Hackney Downs ward, Hackney council (Lab)

I can be ambivalent about Brexit and see the EU is acting true to form. Brexit is a raspberry to its masterplan, so of course it will make life difficult for the UK and punish us for daring to leave, in case it sets a precedent.

While the EU’s attitude can be described as “bullying”, and it has certainly been intransigent — every reasonable offer is rebuffed with “not enough” — the UK should not roll over. It would be refreshing to see MPs of all parties rallying behind the UK’s best interests.
Duncan Reeve

Tackling knife crime needs a joint effort

Croydon is mourning the death of another teenager. The 17-year-old boy killed on Sunday is the 21st young person killed in London this year and the 15th to be stabbed to death as knife crime continues to rise. Every one of these tragic deaths was avoidable and we now need urgent action to prevent any more.

We already know from the late 2000s that investing in better youth services, family support, early intervention, community-led projects and tougher police enforcement successfully cuts violent youth crime. But after the 2010 general election the Coalition slashed funding for these services and decimated neighbourhood policing.

It is not the children of well-paid professionals who get caught up in gang violence but youngsters from poorer and disadvantaged backgrounds. The evidence shows that appropriate family support and interventions with young people while they are still low-level offenders stops them progressing to more violent crime later on.

The way forward is for the Government to work with community groups, local government, the police and other partners on the ground to re-invest in local community-led initiatives that successfully tackle youth crime at source.

We can’t allow any more children to die on our streets.
Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North (Lab)

Don't cut business ties with Europe

We can all agree with Liam Fox that trade is vital and that it depends on close relationships [Letters, October 30]. But surely the EU is our largest trading partner, not the US?

In this age of globalisation it is blocs that count, not individual nations. Fox’s approach will do little for the Enterprise Europe Network, which helps businesses from the UK and Ireland find international partners for trade, technology exchange or joint R&D.

It is nonsense to look ahead to better co-operation outside Europe while disregarding the wonderful dynamic co-operation within its borders.
Andrew Wilks

Cap profit margins of greedy builders

Look around London and you see construction everywhere on a massive scale. Surely the problem is not the number of properties that are being built but that they are unaffordable for the vast majority of Londoners?

The radical response we need to this crisis is not giving free rein to greedy developers but capping profit margins. But with one in four MPs reportedly supplementing their income through renting out property, are we really going to see any change?
Stephane Duckett

Sums don't add up for new Boris bikes

Your report [“Larger lights, gel seats and smaller wheels: the new £1,000 Boris bike”, October 30] suggests that over the next five years 600 new £1,000 bikes will be bought annually to replace the existing Boris bikes. That works out at £3 million.

The article then goes on to mention that this is part of a five-year contract worth £79.7 million. On the basis that the infrastructure required to run the system is already in place, what on earth is Serco, the private company awarded the contract, doing for the other £76.7 million?
Craig Alexander

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T-charge will not hit the poorest

Stuart Coster claims the T-charge will hit the poorest people in London the hardest [Letters, October 30]. However, he doesn’t mention the fact that poverty is relative.

Those from poorer backgrounds do not drive older cheaper vehicles in London — they cannot afford to run cars at all and have to use other means of transport.

The T-charge will improve the quality of life for the poorest by reducing the amount of pollution that they have to endure. If that means that some drivers have to switch to public transport, it’s a fair price to pay.
Tony Hunt

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