It is shocking to see where British politics is heading when demagogues like Nigel Farage take such a lead in opinion polls for the European elections.
The British have become very radical and emotional about their national identity. It seems they cannot think about who they are really voting for and what those people represent.
It is alarming for EU citizens who were welcomed under previous more forward-thinking governments. In my view, it was a shame the EU granted the UK the Brexit extension that has allowed people such as Farage to emerge from obscurity once more.
In fact, it is a shame the EU did not do Britain a favour and let it crash out. There could have been no real major impact — everyone would be happy and power would again swing between Conservatives and Labour, like a pendulum. Or there would have been the predicted economic disaster, ending the political fiasco of Brexit and its advocates once and for all.
The early success of Nigel Farage’s Brexit party was utterly predictable — and predicted by this newspaper.
The Conservatives’ mistake was to think “Let’s just get Brexit done, and then we can move on to other things.” There is no “moving on”. Even if the Prime Minister had managed to pass her Brexit deal, the hard Brexiteers (and their leadership contenders) would have immediately campaigned to withdraw from the withdrawal agreement — and the argument about the permanent EU relationship would go on for years.
Trying to upend 50 years of economic and security relationships with our neighbours was always going to shatter the existing political order. The part of the Brexit vote that was angry about markets, globalisation and modernity was never going to stick with mainstream Conservatism.
The Tories would be better advised to focus also on the 16 million who voted to remain, many of whom were their natural supporters. For if the equivalent of the Brexit Party emerges on the remain side, or Labour manages to harvest their anger, then the Conservatives really are sunk.
George Osborne, Editor
Paris is rocked but it will not founder
What a sympathetic article Matthew d’Ancona wrote [“Notre-Dame reminds us: humanity’s creativity and goodwill have no borders”, April 17]. If I may add to his touching words on Wren discovering a stone carved with “resurgam” — I shall rise again, Paris’s motto is “Fluctuat nec mergitur” — which can be translated as “She rocks but is not overcome”.
The phrase originates from the time Paris was the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the Seine where the cathedral stands. Notre-Dame is indeed one of the oldest stories of common endeavour.
By the way, the oldest bridge in Paris, to the Île’s western side, is Le Pont Neuf (the new bridge). Plus ça change... everywhere.
The moving footage of tearful onlookers to Notre-Dame, and the unprecedented outpouring of grief and charitable donations, suggests that Christianity still stirs the soul of French society.
RSPB out of touch
It’s the RSPB that has “lost touch with nature”, contrary to what director of conservation Martin Harper argued [“Anti-bird nets show we have lost touch with nature”, April 12]. See the cull of crows on the RSPB’s own reserves, and vague talk of “laws to help nature to recover”. We already have the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. It needs extending.
Denise Julie Hyam