Theresa May should be wary of lecturing the Scottish on independence

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Saturday 04 March 2017 15:51
Theresa May spoke at the Scottish Conservative conference
Theresa May spoke at the Scottish Conservative conference

Some of us will remember Thatcher’s disastrous “Sermon on the Mount” speech in the 1980s when, by her way of it, she was setting the Scottish people right on politics. This of course led to the decimation of the Tory party in Scotland – something from which they have only slowly recovered.

None of this seems to have deterred the most recent blue rinse Tory leader storming up north to tell the fractious Scots how it is. I doubt whether she’ll be any more successful than the Iron Lady.

PS: Phrases like “tunnel vision nationalism”, “constitutional obsessing” and “independence at any cost” do not sit very well on the lips of someone in hock to the right wing xenophobes of both Tories and Ukip.

Rev Andrew McLuskey

Theresa May has claimed that the SNP are obsessed with getting independence at any cost. That may well be true, but it’s a bit rich coming from one who is obsessed with Brexit at any cost.

Susan Alexander
​Frampton Cotterell

We should look to the Danish model when considering the Brexit negotiations

Some Brexiteers claim that it’s wrong, unpatriotic even, for the Lords to place pre-conditions on the Government’s negotiations in the Article 50 bill, such as safeguarding the rights of EU nationals. However, the “blank cheque” demanded by the Government is undemocratic.

We can learn a great deal from the Danes. Their system is designed to ensure that “both the influence of the [Parliament] on government policy and the freedom of the government to negotiate through its ministers participating in meetings in Brussels must be taken into consideration”.

If Denmark were faced with “Dexit”, their government would not be given a “blank cheque”. The government’s powers would be limited by its “Negotiating Mandate”, granted to them by their parliament. Their government would be obliged to regularly report back to parliament and, if necessary, the mandate may be amended. Meetings may be held in camera. With this process, no one has ever accused the Danes of foolishly giving up one of their bargaining chips.

At the end of the two-year negotiations, the Danes would not be left with a Hobson’s choice of either accepting the deal or crashing out with no deal. Their parliament could instruct their government to request an extension, even if the government wanted to crash out of the EU. This would probably be granted, as no one would want to ignore a democratically elected parliament. This would still be consistent with the referendum results.

It is time for Parliament to learn from our Danish friends and start doing its job of representing the people by placing pre-conditions on the mandate that they have just granted to the Government.

Panos Gregory
London SW16

Theresa May should call a general election to silence the Remoaners

The Prime Minister can kill several pesky birds with one stone by calling a general election this year in the month of her surname. May has already pushed forward with Brexit at a far brisker pace than few had anticipated even before Christmas. She can use a national poll to resolve the many issues swirling around No 10 that threaten to mire her until 2020.

May can use a general election as a proxy referendum on her Brexit strategy and the thorny issue of Scots independence, while also gaining a mandate for her domestic programme of public service and economic reform. She should put a central manifesto proposition to all the British people that they wish to remain within an independent United Kingdom governed at Westminster.

A Conservative win would thus put to bed the Remainers for good and shelve the break-up of the UK for a generation. The May miracle has seen a country that teetered on the edge of financial oblivion after 23 June pick itself up and remain one of the world’s biggest economies. Even better for May, she shows little sign of a seven-month itch in the opinion polls.

The PM is now at a crossroads with, potentially, a green light to put her foot down on the Brexit pedal and put the boot into Miller, Juncker, Sturgeon, the Lords, Labour et al. Put on your best driving shoes, Theresa May, and gear up the country for a general election that could shape all our futures for half a decade.

Anthony Rodriguez

Parents should be permitted to choose what is taught to their children

There are elements of truth in Janet Street-Porter’s article, but I challenge its basic premise. Society is bombarded with concepts and images pertaining to sex. Sex sells products. We must not permit this unfortunate state of affairs to determine our reactions to this very complex situation. Not all parents are totally competent or united in parenting, and support in some cases is required.

There should not be abnegation of parental responsibility. Parents should be the foremost teachers of their children, in partnership with a chosen school. They should choose which elements of the curriculum are appropriate and at what stage in the child’s development. They should increasingly involve the child in these decisions as maturity develops. It is totally unrealistic to delegate more responsibility to teachers, and the concept of compulsory education/no opt-out, is a very dangerous principle indeed.

John McLorinan

Not all of the people ‘have spoken’

After the 1975 referendum, and after the 11 general elections since joining the EEC, all of which produced big pro-membership majorities in parliament, nobody suggested that people should stop campaigning for Brexit (as it is now called). But anyone who suggests that we might have second thoughts about last June’s referendum are slapped down with the mantra “the people have spoken”.

Could anybody explain why it is perfectly acceptable to express dissent after the dozen occasions when “the people spoke” in favour of EU membership, but to suggest revisiting a pro-Brexit vote is something akin to treason? I would really love to know.

Alan Pavelin

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