Letters: Britain can’t keep negotiating with an EU that refuses to compromise

A man walks past the EU and Union flags of anti-Brexit protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London
A man walks past the EU and Union flags of anti-Brexit protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/TOLGA AKMEN/AFP

SIR – The EU’s attitude to negotiations is clear: it tells you what to do and you get on with it. So is Leo Varadkar’s: he knows that if he continues to play hardball the EU will reward him with Northern Ireland.

This makes the abject Surrender Act redundant, as the EU will not budge and Britain must not cast Northern Ireland adrift.

There is no point in extending Article 50 if there can be no compromise.

Charles Penfold
Ulverston, Cumbria


SIR – Am I alone in finding it neither ethical nor moral to try to force someone to do something that they do not believe in and do not wish to do, especially when what they are being forced to do is against the majority view of the population?

I have no expertise regarding legal precedence, but, if the Benn Act is legal, does it not mean that any government with a working majority can pass similar acts, forcing other members of Parliament to do whatever it wishes?

Terence Carter



SIR – It is now clear that Boris Johnson’s proposals cannot form the basis of an agreement with the EU (report, October 8,

The British people deserve a rapid resolution to Brexit so that we can get on with our lives. We voted to leave, a deal cannot be agreed, therefore we must leave without one. It really is that simple. Or so it should have been, had not the Remainers refused to accept the result of the referendum.

The EU is not without blame: it asked Mr Johnson to submit detailed proposals and he did so. It has not told him what changes need to be made to render these proposals acceptable. This is a shameful situation for everyone involved.

Nigel Dyson
West Worldham, Hampshire


SIR – Before the referendum in 2016, the Government sent to each household a booklet outlining the benefits of remaining in the EU and the disadvantages of leaving.

Having just revisited this booklet, I notice there is no reference to the Irish border issue. Given that the aim was to highlight potential problems with leaving, it overlooked what has become the single most difficult question.

Had this been raised, might it have influenced the outcome?

R F Pottow
Calne, Wiltshire


SIR – If we leave the EU without a negotiated deal, only our anti-democratic Parliament can be blamed.

Remain MPs, representing their own interests and not those of the majority of the British people, have encouraged a predatory EU to believe that we will submit to its demands.

It would seem that the British people have more faith in Britain than do their leaders in Westminster.

Patrick Kelly
Chippenham, Wiltshire     


Kurds abandoned

President Donald Trump said on October 8, 2019 that the US has not "abandoned" its Kurdish allies inside Syria Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP

SIR – Donald Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria (report, October 8) without prior liaison with both his Western and Kurdish allies is a detrimental act.

He is well aware of the political conflict between the Kurds and President Erdogan of Turkey, which could become a military struggle and facilitate the escape of Isil prisoners from Kurdish-controlled jails.

An American president should not tweet off-the-cuff decisions, but communicate sensibly with his allies and international organisations before taking action.

Peter Ashcroft
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire


SIR – The betrayal of the Kurds is disgraceful. When Isil was at its peak it was the Kurds alone who kept its fighters in check. They were brave and resourceful when others shied away.

In a tribal area such as the Middle East, the Kurds deserve their own lands. Donald Trump would deserve credit and gain popularity if he acted on this rather than abandoning them now that Isil is beaten.

Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall

Smacking ban

SIR – Brian Tordoff  (Letters, October 7) cites “common sense” to justify assaulting children. At least we were spared the usual cry of “political correctness gone mad”.

The arguments in favour of the legality of big people hitting little ones – that banning it is an invasion of private family life – are the same as those advanced when wife beating and wife rape were criminalised. Similarly, when the Children Act 2004 reduced the permitted level from actual bodily harm (cuts and bruises) to “mere” common assault.

Of the many countries that have banned the corporal punishment of children, not one, so far as I am aware, has had a change of mind.

Professor Chris Barton
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Mole-free Ambridge

Ambridge has ferrets but apparently no moles Credit: Guy Edwardes/ Getty Images Fee

SIR – The Archers is not only missing an angling club (Letters, October 1) but something else – moles.

Now Ed, Eddie and Will Grundy are all looking for work, mole catching would seem an ideal opportunity. But Borsetshire appears to be the only county in Britain without them.

Chris Stewart
Sevenoaks, Kent 


Climate protests

SIR – Extinction Rebellion is oblivious to the leadership Britain is showing in reducing carbon emissions.

Buckinghamshire, for example, has won funding from the Government for experimental work on smart lamp posts made from recycled plastic, road surfacing that will generate energy from moving vehicles and roadside sensors that collect data on traffic movements and guide driverless cars.

Rather than paralyse London (report, October 8), Extinction Rebellion would be better off supporting Britain’s role at the forefront of new technology and reserving its energy to take on worse culprits, such as China and India.

Patricia Birchley
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire


SIR – Having spent two weeks with my soldiers guarding the perimeter of Greenham Common in the Eighties, I sympathise with the underlying motives of both the peace protesters then and the Extinction Rebellion movement now.

However, the disruptive actions of the former achieved nothing, and I predict the current protests will only aggravate law-abiding members of the public – whose support will be lost – and tie up the valuable resources of the police.

Lt Col Jeremy Prescott (retd)
Southsea, Hampshire


SIR – One assumes Extinction Rebellion’s threat to shut down London includes Parliament.

Let’s hope they can keep it going until October 31. Or will it be ruled unlawful?

Simon Warde
Bognor Regis, West Sussex 


Police reform

Left to right: former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, Lord Bramall, and late ex-home secretary Lord Brittan who had their homes raided during Operation Midland Credit: PA Wire/PA Wire

SIR – The dreadful errors of the Metropolitan Police, exposed by Sir Richard Henriques (report, October 8), were not solely the fault of the police.

For decades there has been much political interference in policing by the Home Office, which accelerated under Theresa May, resulting in police decimation.

That intrusion has caused an overemphasis on academia, fast-tracking and diversity, allowing officers to be promoted into specialist departments well beyond their capabilities, without adequate training or experience – a situation that will continue for years to come.

A review of policing, involving retired practical career detectives, is urgently required.

Iain Gordon
Former Detective Inspector Metropolitan Police
Banstead, Surrey    


Ginger charmer

Cream (left to right) Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce found fame in the band Cream. Baker died on October 6 Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Michael Ochs Archives

SIR – In the late Seventies I was working on a large construction site in Nigeria. Some friends and I decided to buy one of the company Range Rovers and drive it back to England.

We were about half way across the Sahara Desert when the alternator packed up. At the next town, which I think was Agadez, we were told of a mad Englishman who owned a Range Rover and might help us. We managed to find his house, outside which was parked a shiny black Range Rover.

We knocked, and eventually a shambling, hirsute figure slowly opened the door. He listened intently as we described our predicament, his eyes closed and his head sagely nodding. We finished our tale of woe and awaited his response.

Ginger Baker’s answer consisted of two words, the second of which was “off”. The door closed.

Colin Patrick
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire 


Time to put the brakes on bad bus driving 

A bus crashes into a wall in Kippax, Leeds. West Yorkshire Credit: Yorkshire Pics / Alamy Stock Photo/Yorkshire Pics / Alamy Stock Photo

SIR – The Prime Minister promises to put more buses on the roads. Yet if passengers are to feel safe and comfortable, and therefore willing to use buses, drivers must be better trained and more effectively monitored. All Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCVs), large or small, should be fitted with black boxes to detect driver error, regardless of trade union resistance.

The general standard of bus driving is appalling. In London it is far below what the paying public has a right to expect.

I make these assertions as a retired advanced driving instructor, with experience of training and assessing bus and coach drivers. The first priority of a PCV driver is “the safety and comfort of passengers” (the answer to a question asked of every candidate at the beginning of their test). Alas, most seem to forget this the moment they leave the test centre with their pass certificate.

Abrupt and aggressive acceleration, braking and steering, which throw the vehicle and its helpless passenger about, together with excessive speed (particularly on corners, roundabouts and at junctions), racing to beat traffic lights and driving too close to vehicles ahead, are the most common and dangerous bus driving faults. All would be detected by black-box technology.

The Government needs to tackle this problem alongside its expansion of the bus network – or risk its shiny new fleet running empty.

Adrian Barrett
Haywards Heath, West Sussex     


Mobile providers must improve signal together 

SIR – I live in the silent Dorset village of Poyntington. The mobile signal is nil (Letters, October 8), which leads to many problems – not least of which is what to do in an emergency situation when Wi-Fi is not available.

I have taken this up with the head of EE (part of BT), who I am told is responsible for mobile signal. Following a visit from an engineer and an executive, it appears there are two possible solutions. Either existing transmission masts need to be elevated or, as I proposed, a signal broadcast facility should be provided on our church disguised as a flag pole.

However, either of these solutions would require investment from the provider, which would want to see a financial return from increased custom. It must also be recorded that councils have in the past baulked at increased mast heights and refused planning permission.

Moreover, mobile phone companies have dedicated masts, which they are reluctant to share when revenue from calls is their aim. It is time, however, for the Government to compel them to do this. It is not rocket science; it is simply a case of knocking heads together for the greater good.

Philip Congdon
Poyntington, Dorset 


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