Why is Boris Johnson allowed to fail us so many times?

·7-min read

The explanation for Boris Johnson's baffling continuing popularity is due entirely to his position as the Brexit figurehead. It doesn't matter how incompetently he runs the country as far as the Leavers are concerned. They will not desert him until he has delivered the outcome they want. Without him I think they fear the game may be up. Once he has “succeeded” in “taking back control” i.e. cast us adrift from our nearest neighbours completely, they will award however many stars they think he is owed.

However, I think ultimately, he will get a D-minus from the ERG buccaneers on the back benches because even he isn't insane enough to give them all the red meat they require. I'm afraid we are no longer 15th century pirates sailing around the globe claiming victory over the landlubbers we encounter. We are now an insignificant island ready to be bullied into ruinous trade deals with far larger economies wielding big sticks.

Someone could inform Jacob Rees-Mogg of the fact.

Lynn Brymer
Ashford, Kent

An honest appraisal

Way to go Tom Tugendhat, the Tory chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, for his evaluation of that right-wing political sect, namely the ERG in our government. It is indeed a corruption of conservatism and has led the Conservative Party by the nose for far too long.

I feel it has indeed manipulated us to this point, when a no-deal denouement will be the ultimate icing on the cake for this group, who have been hell-bent on this finale for so long.

At the worst possible time and of course, with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, these specious negotiations are going under the radar and I can hear the announcement from the prime minister now stating it is unfortunate but there were too many irreconcilable differences to gain a mutually beneficial deal. Then presumably the ERG will move for a national day of celebration, because their mendacious working behind the scenes has finally come to fruition, and they have taken back control for their own ideological ends and not for the ultimate good of the country that they purport to serve.

Judith A Daniels

The myth that the atom bombs caused Japan to surrender has been a central plank in convincing the world that fear of repetition supports the argument for nuclear deterrence. The truth is somewhat different. The Japanese War Cabinet had made the decision to surrender before Hiroshima for fear of Russian invasion and consequential. execution of their God Emperor. Surrendering to the US was a far better alternative.

US Navy Admiral Leahy, chief of staff to President Truman, said: “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender” and Professor Galbraith, the official US investigator in Japan in 1945, said: “The bombs fell after the decision had been taken by the Japanese government to surrender.” Churchill said likewise in his History of WWII.

One can only strongly applaud the UN secretary-general’s appeal in the Independent for the nuclear weapon states to re-address disarmament with more vigour. It is of particular concern that the UK has embarked on a joint project with the US to develop yet another nuclear warhead 75 years after the first bomb was dropped.

Robert Forsyth

Worrying parallels

The two-stage explosion in Beirut this week allowed the world to watch the disaster as it developed. We are horrified. We’ll send money to help the relief effort. But we are also grateful that it didn’t happen here. Lebanon has long suffered the effects of foreign interference then abandonment, of ongoing war in the Middle East.

That sort of thing couldn’t affect one of our cities, could it?

But the ammonium nitrate explosion was not directly the result of war. It happened because for years no one in government saw fit to remove a large amount of a dangerous substance from the centre of the city. It happened because the polity of Lebanon was degraded. Degradation is a gradual process. It resulted from power being in the hands of a wealthy elite, more interested in feathering their own nests than promoting the welfare of the people.

Sound familiar?

Susan Alexander
South Gloucester

Give leaders nowhere to hide

Images of the horrific blasts caused by a neglected store of ammonium nitrate in Beirut serve as a useful and timely reminder. As huge as it was, laying waste to a huge section of Beirut’s port and city, this, we are informed, is only a small fraction of the effect of the atomic bombs that laid waste to Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago this month.

Antonio Gutteres, the UN secretary-general, made an impassioned plea for the world to redouble its efforts to eradicate, or at least significantly diminish the arsenal of nuclear weapons that are stored in various locations around the world.

In the 1960s the campaign for nuclear disarmament (CND) gained significant momentum and voiced its concern with the burgeoning development of these obscene weapons. Obscene not only in terms of the huge expanse of devastation that can be achieved, but even worse than that, the pernicious and ongoing damage caused by radiation poisoning, which surely is an abomination to the natural world, as well as our human sensibilities.

There is a major problem with the laudable ideal of banning nuclear bombs. However well-intentioned this desirous state of affairs would be, not least in the saving of billions of pounds that could be far better used for the benefit of humanity. But because it fails to acknowledge an innate human condition; namely insecurity.

All fortifications, ramparts, castles and the like, are monuments to a particular cultures’ fears, real or imagined. Fears, which at the time, required a significant investment of time and effort and money. They stand as testimony to a decision that was accepted as being proportionate to what was capable of being lost.

Is our collective hope of banning the bomb a futile and unrealistic ambition? Or, has the laudable ambition directed our attention away from an area that may provide a more realistic solution? What if instead of banning the bomb, we, as a collective species, organised through the auspices of the UN, decided instead to ban the governmental nuclear bunkers?

Thanks to satellite technology, we now have the means to remotely scrutinise the surface of the whole earth. We can also pinpoint the exact location of any landmark using cross-referenced GPS technology. In addition, any surplus ammonia nitrate being stored elsewhere in the world could be put to good use.

The point here is that rather than giving up our weapons of mass destruction, if the world leaders responsible for “pressing the button” to launch such weapons have to remain on the surface of the planet along with the rest of humanity to face the consequences of their actions, then the probability of the weapons being deployed would be significantly reduced.

Nigel Plevin

PPE disgrace

50 million masks were bought from Ayanda Capital (AC) that will not be used as they are not fit for purpose. £252 million that cost. Just imagine what could be done with that amount of our money?

AC don't normally do this kind of thing – they are usually involved in offshore finance! Being registered in Mauritius, despite being a UK company, you start to see where this government has been rewarding its friends!

What's worse is that we didn't even ask for a refund! Haven't they heard of trading standards? Our trade minister should be sacked for incompetence. No more shady deals please!

Gary Martin

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