Thank goodness for proper statesmen like John Major and Tony Blair

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Friday 02 March 2018 10:43 GMT
Mr Blair’s speech in Brussels this week divided opinion
Mr Blair’s speech in Brussels this week divided opinion (REUTERS)

How refreshing to hear some truly statesmanlike contributions to the Brexit debate from Messrs Major and Blair. When one compares their sensible and principled positions to the irrational rage of Rees-Mogg, one realises how low the standard of politics has sunk under the present Prime Minister.

Rees-Mogg has nothing to offer except insult and anger. He, and all Brexiteers, must know that a referendum conducted today would achieve a considerably greater majority to stay in the EU than the paltry 1.2 per cent majority achieved by Leavers through falsehood and ignorance in June 2016. That is why they are running scared.

Brexit was always about the strife within the Tory Party, and not about the country’s interests. It is the only item on this Government’s agenda. The sooner this Government is laid aside the better so that we, the country, can stop the navel-gazing and get on with life – changing the EU from inside rather than sitting in isolation out in the North Sea.

Peter Webb
Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex

When I read a lot of the responses to Mr Major’s speech, what I see is recitation of dogma; I don’t see anything that comes close to pragmatic answers to the position we find ourselves in as a nation.

In that regard, I think Mr Major is to be commended for speaking out. Even if one doesn’t agree with everything he says, he at least seems to be trying to be real and to be honest – and in that regard he sets himself apart from the majority of politicians.

Steve Mumby

We must not forget Mo Mowlam’s role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland

Even ignoring the bizarre way that the media and political “in-crowd” somehow think Blair is rehabilitated in the public eye – giving him a regular platform for his Brexit views – is nobody going to challenge him when he soils Mo Mowlam’s greatest political legacy?

Rarely does he miss an opportunity to distract the public from his Iraq atrocity by mentioning the Good Friday Agreement and thereby appropriating that (increasingly fragile) success for himself.

If we also ignore the fact that John Major paved the way for peace, the Labour figure who beyond doubt deserves credit for the head-knocking-together that was required to make the impossible happen was Mowlam, in her role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

In my fledgling days in the Labour party and as an elected city councillor in the north-east – way before I left in disgust over Iraq – Mo Mowlam was a mentor and an inspiration to me as a woman politician.

Just when I think Blair cannot make me feel more revulsion than he already has, he does...

Amanda Baker

Gibraltar’s position could be key to Brexit negotiations

Both the legal argument and the moral arguments are clear: Gibraltar is British and must remain so. However, it is in the interest of both Gibraltarians and Spanish alike that there is the fullest and freest cross-border movement of people, produce and commerce possible. Therefore, serious consideration should be given to allowing Gibraltar to stay within both the EU single market and the customs union.

James Keeley
Fetcham, Surrey

There is nothing inevitable about trade negotiations between Brexiting Britain and the EU: it is rather a matter of will and the willingness to compromise. At the moment both sides are intransigent. The EU is wedded to its plan to build a quasi European State in which all the rules must be followed without exception. The UK has a totally different EU model in mind in which its members can be flexible and diverse while at the same time seeking common goals. Restructuring the EU on a cooperative model – a Commonwealth of Europe to use the late Tony Benn’s terminology – would allow both the flexibility and the solidarity that the EU needs in order to prevent a descent into nationalism, fired by the EU’s autocratic and inflexible manner towards its member states.

L J Atterbury
Pila, Poland

When is a red line not a red line? Apparently when it is an EU principle. The EU’s consistent line is that the UK’s red lines make Brexit very difficult: leaving the single market; leaving the customs union and ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the UK are all apparently problematic. Is not the EU’s insistence on the indivisibility of the “four freedoms” – free movement of people, goods, services and capital, resulting in the single market, customs union and the claimed supremacy of the ECJ – the biggest red line of all?

Pragmatism is more than just a word! The UK has just unilaterally extended the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK should they arrive during the transition/implementation period. Evidence of the EU’s claimed pragmatism and political good faith would be shown by rapid reciprocity for UK citizens going to the EU in that period.

Keith Mann

It is important to avoid provocative language when reporting on Israeli government policy

The headline to your recent article (“Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre closes in protest at Israeli ‘persecution’”, 27 Feb) originally referred to “Israeli ‘Nazi persecution’”. However, the original statement by church leaders in Jerusalem does not reference Nazi Germany at all, but rather to “laws of a similar nature which were enacted against Jews during dark periods in Europe”.

It is disappointing to see the ease with which people may resort to emotive and inaccurate language, which only serves to bait and offend. To insert the word “Nazi” into any contemporary dispute concerning the State of Israel, is to cynically distort the true meaning of words from their historical context, and diminish the severity of the atrocities that these words represent.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism – adopted by the government of the UK – clearly states that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis constitutes an example of contemporary anti-Jewish hatred”.

As a society, it is our responsibility to severely condemn the light use of the word “Nazi”. It is only by remembering the tragic lessons of history that we will be able to maintain awareness of Nazism in future generations. This is crucial to ensure that such disastrous events are not repeated.

Yehuda Avivi
Spokesperson, Embassy of Israel, London

Amis didn’t meet his end with the Devil

Joe Sommerlad in Thursday’s Daily Edition describes The Old Devils as Kingsley Amis’ last novel (“The greatest stories never told”). He actually wrote another five novels after this.

John Deane

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