Letters: An easing of the US travel ban to Britain should be the PM's next goal

·9-min read
A man holds a bouquet of flowers at Gatwick Airport, London, as vaccinated travellers from US and parts of Europe are allowed to enter Britain - AP/Alberto Pezzali
A man holds a bouquet of flowers at Gatwick Airport, London, as vaccinated travellers from US and parts of Europe are allowed to enter Britain - AP/Alberto Pezzali

SIR – The Prime Minister has made yet another U-turn on a policy previously signed off by the Cabinet – this time a proposed “amber watch list” for controlling travel to foreign countries (report, August 3).

Perhaps he can try his luck with travel to and from America. We are unable to visit our son and his family there because all inward travel from Britain is banned, except for returning residents.

They cannot come here because Britain is at level four in America’s table of risk – the highest level. Only emergency travel is approved. The cost of PCR tests in Britain for a family is prohibitive, and their travel insurance would be invalid if they did come. All business travel to Britain is also banned by my son’s employer.

As has been the case for many months now, we are forced to continue to rely on FaceTime as our only means of personal contact with our son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons.

Graham Allen
Sheffield, South Yorkshire

SIR – On returning from France, where we visited our younger son and his family in Brittany, my wife and I, who are in our mid-70s, each received the following text from the Government: “Welcome to the UK. You are now required to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and to take two further coronavirus tests. Otherwise you may be fined.”

Our trip has cost us £590 in test fees when we are both fully vaccinated, and now we cannot even stroll to the corner shop to buy a newspaper.

Graham Hipgrave
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

SIR – I am sure I am not alone in wondering just how many inconveniences, exclusions and irritations people will be forced to accept in the post-pandemic world.

My daughter, who is 15, and her two pals went 10-pin bowling in Blackburn on Monday, then hoped for a bite to eat afterwards. She doesn’t have a debit card and is too young for a credit card, but not one of the four high-street casual dining chains they tried was prepared to accept cash.

Howard Buttery
Whalley, Lancashire

SIR – My driving licence, sent three months ago to the DVLA for renewal, has vanished into a Covid-shaped black hole. Two requests for information have gone unanswered, having fallen into the same dark pit.

My passport has also expired. Fortunately I can’t travel abroad and wouldn’t want to even if I could, but I have been left with a dilemma. Bureaucratically speaking, I have become essentially nonexistent.

In search of proof that I’m not an impostor, I dug into the archive and unearthed my original 62-year-old manila-brown medical card. I also have my infant inoculation records, which are mandatory these days. I will present them on demand whenever I am stopped by the authorities yelling “Papers!” in my face.

John Williams
Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex

Exorbitant shipping

SIR – Regarding your article (Business, August 1) on rising shipping costs, I can report that the cost of transporting a 40ft container from China to the UK is now almost $20,000 (£14,400).

As an importer of high-quality bone china ceramics (it is not viable to manufacture this substrate in the UK or EU), I also have the double whammy of HMRC still applying anti-dumping duty on top of the freight costs, as well as the product cost, even though Britain is no longer in the EU.

There is no doubt that shipping line owners are colluding to restrict capacity after Covid, and raising costs to unsustainable levels. Something needs to be done, as we are reaching the point where freight is going to cost more than the products imported.

Mike Bliss
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

RNLI’s duty at sea

SIR – I was appalled to read of the abuse that RNLI crews received for helping migrants, and that a “small number” of people have withdrawn financial support for the charity (report, July 30).

The crews are mostly volunteers who are prepared to risk their lives to rescue strangers. Sir William Hillary, the founder, wrote a pamphlet in 1823 entitled An Appeal to the British Nation on the Humanity and Policy of Forming a National Institution for the Preservation of Lives and Property from Shipwreck. One of its aims was for “the people and vessels of every nation, whether in peace or war, to be equally objects of the Institution”, which was formed on March 4 1824.

International maritime law also says that “the shipmaster has an obligation to render assistance to those in distress at sea without regard to their nationality, status or the circumstances in which they were found”.

Raymond Hirst
Lancaster

Handbag turn

SIR – Drive around Naples (perhaps not the best advice) and you’ll see many vehicles permanently signalling left. The Italians use the indicator stalk for dangling handbags (Letters, August 3).

Jack Lawlor
Haworth, West Yorkshire

SIR – In the early 1980s I had a Fiat Strada, and one of its selling points was that it had a hole just behind the gear stick designed to carry a bottle of wine.

Now that is Italian.

Nick Pope
Woodcote, Oxfordshire

Cost of electric cars

SIR – The recent findings by Which? suggesting it would take six to 10 years to recover the extra cost of buying an electric car from savings in running costs (report, August 2) assume that present costs will stay the same.

This is not very likely. It is almost certain that the cost of electricity for charging cars, along with the imposition of road tax or road pricing, will mean that the costs of running an electric car will increase substantially. The predicted loss of billions in car tax and fuel duty as more electric cars are introduced has to be recovered. The sums are far too large to ignore.

The business case for “going electric” does not exist and probably never will.

Dr Michael Blackmore
Midhurst, West Sussex

Afghan interpreters

SIR – Offering Afghan interpreters and their families sanctuary in Britain from Taliban retribution (report, August 3) is the least this country can do.

The real tragedy, skirted by our government, is that, after nearly two decades of British presence in Afghanistan, we are having to offer them protection at all.

Helen Nall
Hoveringham, Nottinghamshire

Kent villages blighted

SIR – Camilla Tominey reports (August 1) that Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, is “sitting on the fence” over the proposed development of 5,000 homes in the medieval villages of Tudeley and Capel. His position is to be viewed as most convenient.

To meet the obligation for housing need, various other suitable smaller sites within the borough were identified, yet the proposed development has been pushed right up to the margins of the Tonbridge and Malling borough.

It is to the nearest town of Tonbridge that traffic from the proposed development will inevitably stream. And it is the borough of Tonbridge and Malling that will bear the ensuing infrastructure costs, while the borough of Tunbridge Wells will benefit from council tax income of the order of £10 million per annum.

Environmental issues aside, an ugly roundabout will blight the entrance to Tudeley church with its unique Chagall windows. The building is also prized for classical music festivals.

The proposal is a scandal, and is an unacceptable blot on the landscape.

Marion R Ansell
Tonbridge, Kent

Bug-free journey

SIR – Having just travelled 3,500 miles around England on a staycation Grand Tour, I can confirm that the front of my windscreen was decidedly bug-free (Letters, August 3).

This was despite having driven through mostly rural places, including the Lake District, and the east, south and west coasts.

Bill McDonald
London WC2

SIR – Surely the phenomenon of fewer insects sticking to car windscreens is due to improved aerodynamics.

Simon Cox
Brixham, Devon

SIR – With the increase in motorcycling in recent years, it seems that insects prefer the challenge of landing on the much smaller area afforded by a helmet’s visor.

Mine is always covered in bugs after even the shortest of journeys.

John Clifton
Ash, Surrey

There is more to Latin than just ‘the classics’

A mid-18th-century portrait of Francis Williams, the Jamaican mathematician and poet - Alamy
A mid-18th-century portrait of Francis Williams, the Jamaican mathematician and poet - Alamy

SIR – It is good to read of the Latin Excellence Programme and Gavin Williamson’s belief that Latin should not be “only reserved for the privileged few” (report, July 31).

However, studying Latin is about much more than just “the classics”. It gives access to an extraordinarily rich range of literary and historical material written over the more than 15 centuries since the fall of the Roman empire, often in what were, in William Cowper’s words, “regions Caesar never knew”.

For example, the most important black writer from the 18th-century British Caribbean, the Jamaican Francis Williams, gained international fame in his lifetime as a writer of Latin verse, and was an important figure in campaigns against the slave trade. As he wrote:

Ipsa coloris egens virtus

prudentia; honesto

Nullus inest animo, nullus in arte

color.

(Worth itself and understanding

have no colour;

There is no colour in an honest

mind, or in art).

Dr John T Gilmore
Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies
University of Warwick

A British propeller-maker scuttled by the EU

SIR – Brian Oakley’s letter (August 2) about ships’ propellers made by J Stone & Co brought back memories of visiting its Birkenhead works as a metallurgy student in 1970. The technical expertise to make the huge castings (more than 40 tons) and machine them to accuracies of a fraction of a millimetre was breathtaking.

The firm made propellers for many celebrated liners, including the Queen Mary and the QE2. Sadly, as reported by Christopher Booker in The Telegraph in 2002, it was a victim of the EU’s double standards on state aid, and had to bid against the heavily subsidised German company MMG. This forced it out of the market.

Dave Holtum
Bathampton, Somerset

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