To walk away from our Brexit divorce bill commitment would break international law and shame the nation

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Monday 23 July 2018 15:09
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Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab says EU meeting ‘constructive’

The £39bn we have committed to pay to the EU upon our exit is NOT a gratuity or a divorce payment. It represents a legal liability.

It represents historic infrastructure commitments and liabilities entered into by our nation that are to be completed by 2030. It represents the remaining one year and nine months of the seven-year budget we committed to pay in 2014. It represents liabilities to contribute towards pensions to public servants who represented our nation within the EU (Mr Farage included!). It represents our contribution to joint research and development projects (to renege on these would decimate the UK’s science and research community).

The list of legally binding liabilities goes on. The calculation of all these liabilities amounts to an estimated £87bn at our exit from Europe in March 2019. However, the EU will pay back to the UK £48bn – this includes the refund of the UK’s share of the ECB. This means that the UK’s liabilities are reduced to an estimated at £39bn.

People and politicians suggesting that we can walk away from these commitments are once again deceiving the people they deceived during the Brexit campaign.

We cannot walk away from these commitments and liabilities; to do so would break international law. It would also trash our nation as a centre of secure and honourable financial services. Our international credit rating would go into free fall. But most importantly, we would never be able to hold our heads up again in the global community.

For God’s sake, if we must act with madness, let us at least act with honour and dignity as a nation.

Martin Deighton
Woodbridge

Banana Republic of Britain

The government chief whip disregards a pairing agreement in order to win a tight vote – disgraceful behaviour, which the prime minister claims was an honest mistake. Vote Leave cheats on electoral expenses, but brushes that finding off as either irrelevant or due to a partisan Electoral Commission.

Theresa May no longer leads, but twists and turns like Raheem Sterling – the crucial difference being that May has no idea where the goal is.

On the other side, we have a Labour leader who seems to be a nice man in an avuncular sort of way: a man who would pass the next door neighbour test, but who always seems a little out of his depth. Then we have the Liberal Democrats, whose senior people are so convinced of their own irrelevance that they don’t bother to turn up to an important vote in the House.

All we need now is some rampant inflation, and the picture of Britain as a banana republic would be complete. Most of the blame must fall on us, the electorate. We don’t take politics seriously enough and regard it as either boring or just a laugh.

But unless we hold our dishonourable politicians to account when they lie or cheat, or block the upskirting bill for some obscure reason of their own, we cannot expect better.

R Warrell
​Devon

Weisspapier – für die Toilette?

My father, who was at one time the translations editor of the American Mathematical Society, had a simple rule: always hire people to translate into their native language, never out of it. As the number of German speakers with a good knowledge of English is huge, this should be no problem for Her Majesty’s government.

I learnt German to read classical literature, not to speak it. While I can readily translate German, my own efforts at communication, while mostly understood, always cause amusement. One German described my efforts as “Goethe mit Fehler” – Goethe with mistakes.

Bob Gould
Edinburgh

IT plan does not compute

The UK government (of all flavours) does not have a sterling record when it comes to major IT projects. And yet we’re now expected to believe that suddenly this will all change, and our ability to selectively collect or pass on customs revenues after Brexit (which will have to be underpinned by massive amounts of technology) will be a doddle. Really?

The current government expects me to be so stupid as to forget all this history?

Steve Mumby
​Bournemouth

Gambling ads don't stack up

In this time of concern about fake news perhaps it is time to look at the ugly stepchild of fake news: fake advertisements and specifically one type, gambling ads.

Like many people on a Sunday, I sat down to watch the highlights of my team’s win, but the replays kept getting interrupted by ads for gambling venues and companies. I know that these TV shows need sponsorship and many of their audience is interested in “backing” their team, although a better form of support could be in the purchase of team merchandise. My concern was with the portrayal of people involved in this gambling.

It should be obvious that these massive companies make their money from your losses so people do, or should, recognise that most of the time they are going to lose. The ads show people who are young and very attractive, surrounded by “celebrities” and sportspeople and for some odd reason they always seem to film it when they have a win.

What I see when I visit the hotels with poker machines at the racetracks with bookmakers or any similar venue is, however, a lot of older, generally much less attractive people who seem to sadly be losing – but maybe I am there at the wrong time. Some of the big race meetings do have invited or paid celebrities, but they are in the branded tents and areas where I as a mug punter don’t have access.

Tell the truth about betting – don’t make it glamorous when it isn’t. Don’t imply you will always win when you don’t. Don’t suggest I’ll make lots of new interesting friends when I won’t. Don’t worry, I’ll still have the occasional bet, but I will know what the likely outcome will be.

Dennis Fitzgerald
Melbourne

Darkest Peru

I was very pleased to hear that Liam Fox is pursuing membership of a Pacific trade group; looking down the list of member countries, my eye was drawn immediately to Peru.

What a splendid opportunity for the country – we can very soon import, far more and far cheaper, frozen guinea-pigs for the culinary trade – tastes like chicken, by the way.

Then for exporters, we have huge potential in marmalade: apparently they cannot get enough, and even our cottage industry producers will reap the benefits.

Initiatives like this will surely put those pesky Europeans in their place!

Robert Boston
Kent

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