Not even coronavirus can make the government extend the Brexit transition period – that’s not prudence, it’s recklessness

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Tuesday 05 May 2020 15:26
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Matt Hancock says we should just get on with Brexit during coronavirus lockdown

Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and other government ministers have rejected calls to extend the Brexit transition period, saying it is “plain prudence” to keep to the current timetable despite any disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

However, we know the government neither recognises nor practises plain prudence.

It would have been plain prudence, for example, not to have run down the NHS when a global pandemic had been predicted; to have cancelled the Liverpool-Atletico Madrid match; to have cancelled the Cheltenham Festival; for MPs to have maintained safe distancing; to have introduced lockdown sooner; to have followed advice and stockpile PPE – and not then to lie shamelessly about its availability; to have listened to the warnings from Italy, who desperately tried to alert us; to have issued a detailed spec for ventilators instead of wasting companies’ time and money trying to design and provide expensive equipment they thought the NHS needed; to have had the administrative skills to enable us to join the EU in purchasing PPE and ventilators; not to have bought medical supplies from China that are not fit for purpose; etc (the list is so long).

But enough of missed opportunities. The government now has an opportunity to be proactive and to lead. Surely it is plain prudence to reflect that those much-vaunted trade deals with China and with the US are now looking considerably less attractive than they were pre-Covid?

Is globalisation not about to take a 10-year holiday? Is it not plain prudence to cosy up to much closer markets – ie Europe? If only we could find some experts to consult and find someone courageous enough to open that discussion.

Beryl Wall
London W4

A proud Brit no more

The UK now has the worst death toll in Europe for Covid-19.

I blame past and present governments for this by continually underfunding the NHS. The present government has been laggard in its response when it comes to obtaining the needed PPE, test kits, masks, etc, and this has without doubt already cost lives. I believe that many of the ministers are incompetent. I used to be a proud Brit but it is hard to be proud when I see this.

Neville Gosling
Surrey, Canada

May the Fourth be with you

Disney recently asked people on Twitter to send in personal stories relating to “May the Fourth be with you”. I said that I am an etymologist (my work on solving “the Big Apple“ was in the Daily Mail in January) and I told Disney that “May the Fourth be with you” is from 1978, not 1979.

Disney did nothing, and I saw the 1979 date used again on Monday on The Independent and many other media websites.

Anyone with access to the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database can find that “May the Fourth be with you“ was printed in the New Musical Express on 6 May 1978. “May the Fourth be with you“ advertisements for Kaufmann’s department store referring to July 4th (Independence Day in the United States) were printed in the Pittsburgh Press on 29 June and 3 July 1978. “May the Fourth be with you!” was also printed in The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario) on 29 July 1978.

Please correct the record, and ask Disney why it completely ignored me!

Barry Popik
New York

Face masks for smokers

Now, as many Colorado cities require wearing a face mask in public, one must ask what about the poor cigarette smokers?

Will the mask cops have mercy on the many who must feed their deadly tobacco addiction? How many days will it be before front pages are filled with pictures of engineered street-smart “cigarette-holes” in masks to outsmart the law with their toxic, public, second-hand smoke?

Mike Sawyer
Denver, Colorado

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