YOUR VIEWS: No use waving flag and calling for unity

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Regarding MP John Hayes’ column in last week’s Free Press.

Mr Hayes is usually more fond of gestures and slogans than of reasoned argument, so it’s not surprising that his pieces sometimes contain hyperbole (deliberate exaggeration); but he went to town on hyperbole in referring to the lion’s roar in the article of July 4.

When Churchill said that he had given the lion’s roar during World War II, he had just remarked that it was the nation and people around the world who had had the lion’s heart. He was being modest about himself.

Mr Hayes appears to mean that it is our present government who should now give the lion’s roar. Really, Mr Hayes! How can you make the comparison?

This Government altogether, including prime minister – tentative, muddled, indecisive as it is – is not one hundredth part of a Churchill.

It’s interesting that Mr Hayes chooses a war-related expression as desirable. Britain – at government level, and in some of the press – has spent years talking of the EU as if it were an enemy with which we were at war.

It’s been a foolish attitude, especially as we’re now hoping for for favours in negotiation. To date, we’ve had over a year to prepare for the situation we launched ourselves and we still don’t seem know our own mind on many things, let alone have a deeply thought-through negotiating position.

The EU meanwhile, which has to co-ordinate 27 countries, has already reached a thoroughly-prepared position and is wondering why the UK government is still unclear on what it wants.

If Mr Hayes wants to try some reasoned argument, how about having a go at what we might do about our long-time abysmal productivity performance, which has just now dropped below the pre-financial-crisis level.

Our EU counterparts, such as Germany, France and others, regularly produce more per working hour than we do – typically 25 per cent. What’s stopping us? Evidently it’s not the EU!

What is it that’s going to give us the bright future he talks about, given that we’re now in the process of making our biggest market more difficult?

It’s no use just waving the flag and calling for unity. (And Mr Hayes has been divisive enough himself in the past.)

Finally, in passing, Mr Hayes talks of the Ulster Unionist support for the government: Well, for a billion pounds even I – but, no, perhaps not!