WEEKEND WEB: Spalding Guardian letters

Reader's picture by Malcolm Pepper
Reader's picture by Malcolm Pepper
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Your views on Brexit and the year ahead

Looking back and looking forward

John Elson's Spalding Guardian cartoon

John Elson's Spalding Guardian cartoon

With another year nearly over most of us will be thinking where did 2017 go and what will 2018 bring us ?

Just to think we had the EU referendum 18 months ago with Cameron and Osbourne thinking it would be a piece of cake. Only they got it all wrong, just like the snap election that wasted months of precious negotiating time to get the best deal for the UK coming out of the EU. But this also backfired to become a very weak and unstable government, putting Labour into a position of a government in waiting.

So, after all this time where are we ? I find it quite amazing that there has been no impact assessment carried out on the economy, business and jobs. Lets take manufacturing and the sector I work in that employs over 800,000 people across the UK and yes the automotive industry has looked positive in the past few years. But there are challenges ahead over the next few years with automation, electrification, digitisation and the ongoing changes to Co2 emission controls.

With the EPV, Electric Powered Vehicles, the journey is just begining, but if the government invests in the right infrastructure the UK could become the centre of excellence for reserch and development for connected and autonomous vehicles. Car companies have announced large budgets for EPV, but have yet to say where the money will be spent? The UK should be well positioned to bid for some of this.

It’s also vital for our supply chains to reap any benefits – our industry is reliant on a strong intergrated supply chain. High levels of production have benefited the UK suppliers but our future in Europe has its own challenges.

Theresa May has just negotiated a £39billion divorce bill and by Christmas 2018 we will know what that has bought us. Hopefully thousands of jobs in manufacturing for the future not just jobs saved for this government. Also, if there is anything left in the pot, more funding from central government for local councils to provide better services for our local communities. We do deserve better.

There will be challenging times over the next decade but facing them together we will be stronger and continue to be successful.

Rodney Sadd

Spalding

Referendum needed over terms on offer

Craig Jackson (Free Press, December 5) says, “The fact is, Great Britain is leaving the EU.” Actually I’d enthusiastically support Brexit if I saw any evidence this would improve the lives and future prospects of everyone living in the UK, as the Leave campaign promised in 2016.

Notably, voters were promised “sunlit uplands of prosperity post-Brexit”, based on a free trade deal with EU “the easiest in human history”, the “EU needs us more than we need them”, “we can have our cake and eat it”, we’ll “get the exact same terms”, and, as added bonus, we’ll end up with an extra “£350m a week” to spend on the NHS.

All of these promises have since been shown to be either unsupported assertions or demonstrable lies. For instance, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority wrote three times to the Leave campaign asking them to withdraw their claim that “We send £350m a week to the EU”, as this claim is provably untrue – but the Red Bus trundled on regardless.

Meanwhile, let’s remember that, when we entered what is now the EU, the UK was universally known as both “the sick man of Europe” (economically) and the “dirty man of Europe” (environmentally).

Since then, the UK has benefited greatly from EU membership, becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and actively leading efforts globally to address critical environmental issues.

Despite this undeniable progress, Craig Jackson now tells us we can, post-Brexit, look forward to “a bonfire of EU Regulations and the sooner it happens the better”. The fact is the UK has had a hand in creating these regulations, all of which were approved by successive UK governments and most of which we’d either wish to retain after Brexit or we’re mandated to retain by international agreements.

To support his case, though, Craig Jackson bizarrely mentions EU regulations banning “bendy bananas and cucumbers”, even though no such EU ban on bendy bananas and cucumbers has ever existed.

Interestingly, it’s been estimated that the 100 “most expensive” EU regulations cost our private and public sectors £33.3bn a year. However, they’re also estimated to generate quantifiable benefits worth £58.6bn a year, yielding a net benefit of £25.3bn a year (=£487m weekly).

So, Craig Jackson’s proposed “bonfire of EU Regulations” would cost the UK £487m weekly, in other words 39 per cent more than the Leave campaign’s false promise of “£350m a week” extra for the NHS.

I don’t know about other readers, but I can certainly think of many other things on which I’d prefer £487m weekly to be spent, notably on the NHS.

Back in 2012, when David Davis was trying to make the case for holding an EU Referendum, he was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman and said it would be essential first to conduct exit negotiations, in advance, so voters could then be presented with a simple choice between the terms of current EU membership and the terms of Brexit on offer.

In June 2016, and still today, no one knows what the terms of Brexit will actually be. However, by March 2019, we will know. Hence, all I’m asking for is a David Davis style referendum on the terms of Brexit actually on offer.

Clearly, if Craig Jackson and his fellow Brexiteers are confident the exit terms on offer will reunite and benefit the UK, then they have absolutely nothing whatsoever to fear from holding a referendum on these terms.

Personally, I believe democracy demands such a referendum and, indeed, it’s the only viable way to heal current divisions.

Alan Meekings

Holbeach

Thought For The Week

George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ envisaged a society where the Thought Police punish thoughts unapproved of by the state.

UN Article 18 gives each person the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion; in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in practice, worship and observance”.

113 MPs want to rescind this right and the Home Secretary is considering this, at the request of MP Rupa Huq who accused Christians of “weaponising rosary beads”.

The Rosary is indeed a powerful weapon, but in the purely spiritual sense.

The Good Counsel Network has been keeping a prayer vigil (the Rosary) outside Abortion clinics, peacefully for 23 years, supporting women who believe they have no option other than to terminate the life of their child.

The result – a reduction of over 1,000 terminations – which is bad for business.

Accommodation and other assistance is provided by Good Counsel, who behave in a quiet, peaceful and respectful manner.

Rupa Huq, who has protested outside a clinic with a pro-abortion group, Sister Supporter, said a radial zone to exclude protests within 150m was needed, banning silent praying and singing hymns.

Silent prayer involves thought.

2017 is looking very much like 1984!

John Petters

Holy Trinity RC Church