A few years back I was on a train on my morning commute into work, somewhat hungover, when I found myself surrounded by voices conversing in a foreign language. “What country am I in?” I briefly wondered to myself. Well, thanks to Brexit, I won’t be finding myself in that situation again, because no more will I be able to choose to live and work (and occasionally overindulge) in the Netherlands, where I enjoyed two fabulous years, nor in any other of our neighbouring European countries.
We’re set to lose the gift of freedom of movement, an intrinsic benefit of Britain’s EU membership, in a few short weeks: our children and their children will be denied the wonderful opportunity to travel and experience seamless life in our neighbouring countries. Still, blue passports, huh? I’m sure those will be a great consolation when we’re choking on whatever the US insists on thrusting upon us as we beg, cap in hand, for a trade deal.
Politicians need to put their trust in the people
Boris Johnson’s assertion that it is “vital for trust in politics” for the government to leave the EU by 31 October is not only absurd but also a deliberate assertion to undermine those who still hope for democracy in the UK. Any trust that the electorate had in politics in 2016 has been eroded by the steady exposure of the lies, the unfulfilled promises and the manipulation of social media by those advocating a hard Brexit.
If Mr Johnson believes that the electorate no longer have trust in politics then he needs to show how he can deliver on all the promises made. Brexit pure and simple was not what we were offered in 2016. But maybe Mr Johnson is only interested in the trust of the 0.13 per cent of the population that voted for him.
He has another 30 days to find a “solution” to the current impasse, which could be seen as a ploy to delay a vote of no confidence until after mid-September – less than six weeks before 31 October when he can dissolve parliament and call a general election which could only take place after we have left the EU. This serves only to reinforce mistrust in politics. Trust in politics can only be restored when politicians put their trust in the electorate. A people’s vote is urgently needed.
Weight issues aren’t confined to women
This is not to detract from the important points in Harriet Hall’s feature on body image and cosmetic surgery, but I can answer a question she poses. She wonders whether a man might be told that the laxatives needed for a colonoscopy might help him lose a few pounds. The answer is yes. I was, a few weeks ago. While men do not have to contend with the constant body-related comments and observations women do, weight is actually an issue that is often raised or pointed out.
Hard Brexit will lead Northern Ireland to unravel
A reminder to British parliamentarians whose responsibility it is to be interested. In signing up to the Good Friday Agreement, Ireland gave up its territorial claim to Northern Ireland by changing its constitution. In a referendum 94 per cent of the electorate in the Republic of Ireland voted a resounding Yes, agreeing that the Irish nation could be described as a community of individuals with a common identity rather than as a territory. This change was intended to reassure unionists that a united Ireland would not happen without the consent of a majority of the Northern Ireland electorate.
Read this again: 94 per cent of Irish voters decided that our constitution should define Ireland as “a community of individuals with a common identity”.
Meanwhile the United Kingdom gave up its territorial claim over the whole of Ireland (which was still in place in 1998) by repealing its 1920 Government of Ireland act. This act had partitioned Ireland (creating Northern Ireland in the process) while maintaining the UK’s territorial rights over of the whole of the island.
In the spirit and language of the Good Friday Agreement, both nations understood that the people of Northern Ireland had a right to self-determination. Thus, the issue of the UK’s future sovereignty over Northern Ireland was deliberately left open-ended. This cannot have been easy for the UK.
Ireland and the UK, as nations, gave up significant ground to bring peace to Northern Ireland the happy result being that the Irish border became virtually irrelevant. That is how negotiations work – everyone gives up something. The two parties shake hands.
The Democratic Unionist Party was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement. In my view, the British government is playing fast and loose with hard Brexit, which will unravel in a return to violence and tribalism on this island.
Labour is being smeared as antisemitic
Eamonn Rodgers’ letter on antisemitism is a classic case of the manufacturing of a mysterious leap from one isolated member of a political party sharing a few (admittedly totally unacceptable) articles into an issue of “Whether the Labour Party eventually does anything effective to curb antisemitism”. This is merely the latest in a seemingly endless list of opportunistic smears of Labour as a political party around the antisemitism issue. And if you attempt to defend the party from such scattergun smears, you’re in yet more danger of being further smeared as antisemitic (which, I hasten to add, I’m emphatically not).
What a brilliantly ingenious attack-line Corbyn’s enemies and would-be destroyers came up with when they dreamt this one up.
Dr Richard House