Your picture of the week
Autumn colours on the Yarrow Water, by Ewan Dickson.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE EU’S FIFTH COLUMN
Article 132 of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement on leaving the EU states that the transition period (during which the UK will continue under EU jurisdiction) may be extended to “ 31 December 20XX”.
So Britain could continue to be governed by Brussels till the end of this century.
Placing Northern Ireland under a different customs arrangement to the rest of the UK will undermine the UK’s sovereignty and, as ex-Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has said, “presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom”.
Article 87 underlines that the EU will still determine UK law. Under Article 130 the UK will be “consulted” about the Common Fisheries Policy, but fishing stocks allocated to UK fishermen will be determined by Brussels. Under transition the UK will be aligned with EU defence agencies, but will be excluded from the Galileo satellite navigational system project.
The UK’s share of EU assets will be written off, but we will continue to pay for EU pensions – and stump up £39bn for the privilege of trying to leave, a sum that would pay for 26,000 nurses for 40 years. No wonder EU negotiator Michel Barnier and European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker were grinning when hapless Prime Minister Theresa May signed their agreement.
This is a terrible deal for Britain as it stands. Unless it is changed, MPs must vote it down, keep the £39bn and move to a clean Brexit, trading under World Trade Organisation rules, as we do with most countries in the world.
The electorate should realise that the EU has a fifth column in the UK whose current purpose is to prevent Britain from escaping the EU’s jurisdiction over its laws and policies.
From civil servants in Whitehall, through Scottish “nationalists” who choose Brussels rule, to Labour MPs who are happy to see the EU preventing state aid and nationalisation on which their manifesto is based, and to the thugs with megaphones and foreign flags who drown out broadcast interviews with their interminable chants of “No Brexit”, all are marching to the EU’s drum. They want to reverse Brexit by supercharging Project Fear.
All ignore the EU’s future plans and problems. The EU is developing into a superstate with a common army, common taxation and a common foreign policy. Countries are intended to become regions.
But the EU’s problems with Poland, Hungary, Austria, Italy and Greece, and with its banking system, will eventually break it. It will go the way of all empires. A clean Brexit will hasten its downfall.
We must prevent the EU elite and their fifth column remaining in control of our laws.We must take back control.
A SELFISH BUNCH OF POLITICIANS
The only consideration First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Westminster representative, Ian Blackford, and his parliamentary colleagues have – even at a most crucial time for the UK – is the question of Scottish independence.
Via the single market and customs union, they seem to think they can achieve their selfish aim.
They still don’t get it. Scotland is very much part of the UK, although 62% voted Remain in the Brexit referendum.
The childish behaviour of the SNP and its leadership only reflects upon a selfish bunch of insignificant politicians who will probably be voted out next time. The UK will still remain the democratic choice of the British people and Scotland will always be included.
We must stay together and united, ready for Brexit and the possibility of no deal. With this scenario there is no place for Irish, Scottish, English or Welsh independence. We must show the world that we stand together, as in our past history.
BRITISH ‘EXPATS’ AND EU ‘IMMIGRANTS’
I am struck by the comments of PM Theresa May that her Brexit plan will stop EU migrants “jumping the queue” when it comes to working in the UK.
How low the UK has sunk that its Brexiteer government is now resorting to spreading resentment towards European citizens, classing them as “queue jumpers”. These individuals took no part in this mess and work here legally and contribute to the country in so many different ways.
They have the same general right of freedom of movement that allows British people the opportunity to work in Berlin and Paris, or retire in Spain.
Even so, their reward seems to be an increasingly-hostile atmosphere.
Mrs May makes no mention of those British “queue jumpers” in other EU countries, symptomatic no doubt of the same attitude that classes those Brits abroad as “expats”, while those from the other EU countries who come to work here are “immigrants”, an increasingly negative term.
Since the referendum in 2016 there has been an alarming increase in both veiled and more explicit verbal abuse to EU nationals, and this will no doubt increase as the negative impacts of Brexit become clearer and scapegoats will be required.
Step forward those innocent EU nationals in our midst.
The UK has taken a wrong turn, as exhibited by the dog-whistle politics of Theresa May and her Tory government.
As the UK enters full panic mode, the victim of a bitter and corrupted Etonian gamble gone very wrong, we must do all that we can to support those EU nationals in our midst and defy this vile populist rhetoric.
NOW IS DEFINITELY NOT THE TIME
Nicola Sturgeon faces significant challenges ahead if she attempts to demand indyref2 is held in the short to medium term.
She was, of course, rejected in March 2017 by Theresa May because of Brexit uncertainty. Eighteen months on, it’s clear “now is [still] not the time”.
The UK government is in a state of massive upheaval and seemingly no one has a clear view of what Brexit may mean, or indeed whether it’ll definitely happen.
Possibly Mrs May’s compromise will be rejected by the Commons; we may have a new prime minister and/or there may be another general election, leading to either a Labour or a Tory government – they’re close in opinion polls. Should or can another deal be negotiated with Brussels? Will there be another EU referendum – and what question would be asked?
Again, opinion polls predict another close result.
“Now is not the time” is an even more appropriate response to the SNP leader than last March.
Brexit may be the drama du jour, but our relationship with the EU will feature heavily in British politics for many years.
Ms Sturgeon will likely again demand indyref2 over the coming weeks – then convert the inevitable rejection into a grievance to nurture until the 2021 Holyrood election.
LEGION REMARKS INSULTING
I refer to Richard West’s letter, headlined ‘Glorifying carnage’, in last week’s edition.
Seldom have I read such an ignorant rant.
His remarks regarding the British Legion in particular are made from a position of complete ignorance, and insulting to one of the finest organisations in existence which dedicates itself to assisting ex-service personnel and many others who are in great need of that assistance and support.
Far from glorifying war, the red poppy is a symbol reminding us that war, however it might be justified, is a horror with its attendant suffering, which is to be avoided wherever possible.
Very few people will be of the opinion that any of the commemorations held in any way “glorify war”.
I can find none.
During the First World War two of my great uncles were killed in action, but thankfully the others survived.
My father and my father-in-law gave the best years of their life to the fighting in the Second World War.
Thankfully they too survived, but many of their friends did not.
They and millions of others fought against vicious dictatorships so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today, including the freedom for Richard West to pen his remarks.
Perhaps he should keep that in mind.
(councillor for Galashiels and district)
LEARNING A HARD AND COSTLY LESSON
Your November 8 issue headlined the doubling of road casualties locally since last year.
I wonder if this has something to do with Scottish Borders Council’s refusal to face up to its legal obligation to maintain a safe and fit-for-purpose road network?
Navigating narrow, twisty rural roads – especially now that the long, dark nights are back – can be difficult enough, but when the surface is crumbling and you are trying to avoid huge holes and the road markings, designed for safety, have all but disappeared, it is not surprising that each winter brings growing carnage. Drivers have no help tracking the centre line of the road and, perhaps even more more dangerously, when and where to stop at intersections.
However, when it comes to anything to do with education, then the claimed law must be obeyed to the letter, regardless of the cost.
But for transport safety it matters not one jot that road users’ lives are put a risk.
Aberdeenshire Council recently got financially hammered in court because of this attitude. It seems that Scottish Borders Council will have to learn the same hard and costly lesson.
But, hey ho, to pay the fine councillors will no doubt just cut down on .... road maintenance.
DOING THE MP’S JOB FOR HIM
I’m not a WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) woman, being lucky/old enough to have qualified for the state pension at 60, but I joined the WASPI group outside the Tait Hall in Kelso on November 8, sharing their sense of injustice.
John Lamont MP, professional politician, may have refused to engage with the group, deeming them political, but, undeterred and positively, we did his job for him.
We spoke to many women on their way into the hall. Many women who are anxious, concerned and angry that because of lack of timely information about the changes to state pension age, were unable to make informed decisions about their futures and now face financial uncertainty and hardship.
Many were relieved just to talk to other women who listened, understood and are determined to put the case for justice.
Mr Lamont could have done this, but chose not to.
Any woman born in the 1950s with concerns about her state pension is very welcome to contact WASPI women for advice, information and mutual support – [email protected], www.facebook.com/groups/waspiscotborders, www.waspi.co.uk
ENGLISH VOTERS WHO SAY YES
When Prime Minister David Cameron stood outside No. 10 on the morning of September 19, 2014, and announced the policy of English votes for English laws, he was simply confirming his arrogant belief that Westminster is the English parliament.
For those of us who naively believed that Westminster was the parliament for the whole UK, the logical and fair solution was to create an English parliament – but no, Scottish, Irish and Welsh MPs were reduced to second-class politicians, which was always the unspoken case anyway.
But that arrogant attitude is not reflected by English voters in Scotland, even in Berwickshire (Little England beyond the border), because about a third of YES Berwickshire members are English. They recognise the distinctive culture, politics, inclusiveness and humanity in Scotland, and do not want those qualities destroyed by a Conservative Westminster government seizing powers from Holyrood.
DESIGNER, NOT AN ARCHITECT
You wrote a very supportive article in your November 8 edition regarding a conversion I have designed at Wester Happrew, near Peebles.
I am sure my clients are heartened at the response.
However, it would be wrong if I did not point out one inaccuracy, and that is the referral to myself as ‘architect’. I am currently not registered with the Architects’ Registration Board and take great pains not to cross the fine fiscal line between architect and designer.
I would appreciate it if your readers could be made aware of this matter.