Posted by Geoff Bishop.
Letters to The Herald.
NEW Year is a time for reflecting on the recent past and looking ahead to the future. This year the conclusion has to be that even the most inventive fiction writer could not possibly have created the current and future British situation. We start with a debt of £1.5 trillion incurring annual interest payments of £43 billion. The pound sterling has plummeted; inflation increases and general prices have started to rise.
We have a totally dysfunctional Government preaching austerity while lavishing billions on London Crossrail and committing to a further eye-watering amount on a conventional rail extension, HS2, to serve some of England. While seriously lacking manpower for the conventional armed forces, our Government commits to two immense, ludicrously expensive aircraft carriers that will carry no aircraft for some years and even when they do, they will use foreign-built fighters and helicopters.
A referendum, which was advisory only, was held at the forceful behest of a perhaps couple of dozen hard-right imperialist Conservative MPs who have been making life impossible for the Tory governments for many years. The binary question and mendacious campaign persuaded enough Little Englanders to vote to leave without any accurate idea of exactly what they were signing. The narrow result in favour of leaving the EU was seized on by Nigel Farage and the Tory Brexiters who were delighted with the outcome and forced a “Remainer” Prime Minister to proceed with no backward glance. The Opposition continues to dither and only the devolved governments seem to appreciate the severity of the position.
Thousands of additional civil servants are being taken on in an endeavour to disentangle the innumerable EU rules and regulations that must be converted to UK laws. European doctors, nurses and other professionals have decided that they are not welcome here and are leaving and migrant workers, essential for harvests, catering and other non-professional occupations will be refused entry in future. All this, at huge expense including the multi-billion-divorce bill, is to achieve almost exactly where we are at present as members of the EU with no influence in future.
One of the main ideas behind the creation of the EU was national security and prevention of wars. With Russia flexing its muscles and prowling the North Sea and English Channel and the dubious nature of our “special relationship” with the United States, this is certainly no time to be isolationist. In addition to these developing dangers, we have two highly suspect leaders with their fingers hovering over nuclear buttons.
Surely, surely enough of our 650 MPs and 800-plus peers must realise what is going on and the vague “jam tomorrow” and “bright new dawn” rubbish preached by the Leave protagonists is just that – rubbish. A call for Article 50 to be revoked and a proper second referendum held to establish the national view now that the true future position is becoming clear is essential before it is too late. Talk of a “Soft Brexit” or a “Hard Brexit” is irrelevant: the answer must be “No Brexit”.
Nigel Dewar Gibb,
15 Kirklee Road, Glasgow.
ALEX Orr (Letters, December 29) mentions some of the wonderful things that Bulgaria is about to do for the EU during its six-month presidency of the European Council when “it will be the main driving force in shaping the EU’s policy agenda”.
Apparently among its achievements is to be the introduction of a motto for the EU, “united we stand strong” – unless of course the context of the phrase, appearing as it does without capital letters, has been drowned in Mr Orr’s sea of official jargon.
But the EU already has a motto and he does not see fit to mention that Scotland’s own Lord John Kerr (better known as the deviser of the infamous Article 50) was Secretary-General of the Convention on the Future of Europe, the body that produced the original 2003 Draft for a European Constitution that featured four EU symbols, including a motto. This document, after discussion and some alteration, was followed by the publication of the European Constitution itself, rejected after negative referendums in France and the Netherlands, only to be largely rearranged and remodelled as the Treaty of Lisbon under which we are governed today.
The draft and its successors have all included the four symbols which, although finally removed from the main text, persist in a declaration made in 2007 annexed to the treaty and signed by 16 member states, of which Bulgaria was one.
The motto was not, however, “united we stand strong” but “United in diversity”. It was intended, like the flag, anthem and currency, to be permanent.
As for the other themes “shaping the EU’s policy agenda” that figure in Bulgaria’s programme, apart from the all-important subject of control of electronic communications and a single digital market, little is new in the list. But the vision of combined security, stability and solidarity standing strong surely has more than a whiff of totalitarianism about it and suggests participation far beyond the capacity of a mere six-month tenure by one member state.
(Mrs) Mary Rolls,
1 Carlesgill Cottages,