The Daily Telegraph - 06.08.2019

(C. Jardin) #1
The Daily Telegraph Tuesday 6 August 2019 *** 15


f I was a Remainer, I’d be in panic
mode. Britain is scheduled to leave
the EU by legal default on October
31 without a deal. In the past, we could
trust that wouldn’t happen because
Theresa May wanted a withdrawal
agreement at all costs and Parliament
could block Brexit if she didn’t. But
now we have a brand spanking new
PM, Boris Johnson, who wants out on
the 31st, with or without a deal. And
his top thinker says that Parliament
has run out of time to stop him.
I suspect Dominic Cummings is
only half right. He argues that when
Parliament returns in September, it
could trigger a vote of no confidence
and bring down the Government – but
the PM is then free to delay a poll until
after October 31, by which time Britain
would be out of the EU anyway. The
House of Commons Library confirms
this is true, and there’s something
rather appealing about the
Government just running down the
clock. If I was Boris, I’d swan off to

Barbados for three months and keep
my phone on silent.
Ah, but there are always other
things Remainers could do to create
trouble. Speaker John Bercow would
probably support emergency debates;
MPs could use any no-deal legislation
to pass fiddly amendments. And if
there was a vote of no confidence, and
if Boris did lose that vote, the
Commons would then have an
opportunity to find a replacement PM.
Dominic Grieve MP summed it up like
this: “Bringing down the Government
and setting up a new one in its place.”
Well, that sounds simple, doesn’t it?
And who exactly would lead this
government? Who is the Remain
movement’s Oliver Cromwell, ready to
burst into Parliament and restore
sanity? Jeremy Corbyn? He can’t even
unite his own party and his position on
Brexit is as clear as mud. Sweary Jo
Swinson? Rory “I smoked opium at a
wedding” Stewart?
And what would this all-star
coalition do? It could call an election,
but Boris might win. It could delay
Brexit a bit longer, but what happens
next? One can imagine this Remainer
alliance passing the very withdrawal
agreement that Mrs May negotiated
and most of them voted against three
There’s a reason why the options are
limited. We hear a lot about how bad
Brexiteers are at politics, and for good
reason: since the referendum they’ve
been divided and fumbled every move
(which is how Mrs May became PM to
begin with). But the endless delay of

the Brexit project has masked some
serious failings among the Remain
movement. They’ve failed to coalesce
around a single party at election time.
They’ve never settled on a coherent
strategy of watering Brexit down, a
second referendum or halting it
altogether. They have no vision for
what Britain would look like if we did
stay in the EU. Would we be federalists
or pushing for reform? The cream in
Europe’s coffee or a pain in the
All of this confusion manifests itself
in the state of their parliamentary
leadership. They’re very good at
playing procedure to their advantage,
but there is no one with the heft of Roy
Jenkins or Tony Blair, or with the
personality to kick out Boris and
replace him as leader of some
government of national unity. I
suppose Chuka Umunna has been a
member of enough parties to form a
coalition of his very own (three in six
months), but otherwise they might as
well hire that bloke who stands outside
Parliament all day shouting “Stop
Brexit”. At least the poor dear knows
what he wants.
The election of Boris dramatically
changes the dynamics of Brexit, even if
the constitutional realities have stayed
the same. Perhaps there are still things
Remainers could do to frustrate Leave.
But that was a lot easier under Mrs
May because she had her deal to flog,
and because she was obsessed with
preserving the Conservative Party. She
loved it more than conservatism itself.
Mrs May is a lady of institutions;

Remainers should beg the EU for a better deal

Their old tricks won’t work

now that we have a PM
willing to break everything
in order to get Brexit done



f Donald Trump expected China to back
down in the trade stand-off with America he
received his answer yesterday. Beijing
responded to a threat to impose new tariffs
by devaluing the currency, cheapening its
exports. The renminbi is now at its weakest
level since the financial crisis more than 10 years
ago. State-owned companies were also ordered to
halt purchases of US agricultural products.
The response cannot have come as a surprise to
the White House. The latest trade data show
American imports from China fell by 12 per cent in
the first six months of the year and a devaluation is
one way of off-setting the losses. Moreover,
President Trump has threatened a 10 per cent tariff
on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods not
covered by previous announcements, to take effect
on September 1. Mr Trump may now hit back by
increasing the proposed tariffs beyond 10 per cent.
China’s central bank had kept its currency at
seven to the dollar for as long as there was a
prospect of a deal between Washington and
Beijing to end the tit-for-tat tariff increases. The
fact it was allowed to fall below that long-term
floor suggests the Chinese have given up on that
prospect, at least in the short term. China is also
sitting on $3 trillion of foreign exchange reserves
which it could weaponise, though the dollar now
makes up just over half the total.
We are witnessing skirmishes by both sides in
what may yet turn into a fully fledged trade war in
which nobody wins, with the UK caught in the
middle. Mr Trump came to power in 2017 intent on
rebalancing the US trade relationship with China
and he feels an obligation to the workers in
industries hardest hit by cheap imports to make
good on his promises.
He has a valid concern about the unfair
subsidisation of Chinese goods and the impact of
cheap imports on jobs in the US. The
administration denies that it is commercially
isolationist but that it is no longer prepared to
tolerate “inappropriate behaviour” by trading
partners, and it is right to point to the hypocrisy of
countries that claim adherence to free trade yet
mask their own self-interested protectionism.
On the other hand, from the UK’s point of view a
trade war can only be harmful, especially on the
eve of Brexit. As the political leader of a mercantile
nation with good connections to the White House,
Boris Johnson should urge the president to keep a
dialogue with Beijing open.

US-China trade war

will only have losers


cDonald’s replaced its plastic straws with
paper ones, accompanied by some fanfare,
calling the new kind “eco-friendly”. Yet,
the old plastic straws could be recycled, and the
new paper ones can’t. That, it appears, is partly
because they were made thicker after complaints
of sogginess from shake and Coke consumers.
McDonald’s uses 1.8 million straws a day in the
United Kingdom, and each one had seemed a kiss
blown to the kindly gods of environmentalism.
Now each one seems more like a jab in the eye. So,
if you were thinking of consuming 5 per cent of
your daily calories in the form of the 27 grams of
sugar dissolved in a small McDonald’s Coke, you
might bring your own straw, perhaps one of those
splendid silver items used for sipping mate tea. It
would certainly keep it looking bright.

Who gives a straw?


his is the time of year when millions of
people look forward to putting the trials and
tribulations of everyday life behind them and
head off abroad on holiday. Yet if they are booked
to fly through Heathrow Airport or on board a BA
flight – or most likely both – then the next few
weeks will be anything but relaxing.
Just the threat of a stoppage by staff at the airport
led to the cancellation of flights on Monday even
though the strike was called off pending further
talks. A threatened 24-hour walk-out by members
of the Unite union, including security staff,
firefighters and engineers may yet go ahead later
this month. They have voted against a pay offer
Heathrow said was worth 7.3 per cent over two-
and-a-half years.
Meanwhile, holidaymakers are also braced for a
strike by BA pilots who have rejected a pay deal
worth 11.5 per cent over three years. Everyone
appreciates that pilots have great responsibility
and are entitled to high rewards for their skills. But
since average salaries are around £160,000 rising
to more than £200,000, few passengers who find
themselves stranded will have any sympathy with
their action should it go ahead.
To stage these disputes at this time of the year in
order to obtain maximum leverage is cynical and
mean-spirited. People earning far less than the
pilots or getting no rise at all, unlike the ground
staff, will have their holidays wrecked or will have
the additional expense of paying for alternative
If the unions insist on having this fight, despite
what to many people look like perfectly good
offers, then they should do so outside the holiday

Unfair disruption

established 1855

Boris is motored by ideas, some of
them very radical. He is in No 10
specifically to do something – deliver
Brexit – and he is willing to blow up
the political order, including his own
party, to get it done. He’s spending the
money on no-deal planning; he’s
touring the country, cuddling
chickens, preparing us for what feels,
day by day, more and more like the
inevitable. Remainers: you are not
dealing with Mrs May now. If you are
as serious about saving your country
as you say you are, you need to accept
your limits and explain the new
situation to EU negotiator Michel
Barnier. He has become your best shot
at avoiding a crash-out Brexit. How?
By sitting down with Boris and giving
him whatever he asks for.
Think of it as a game of chicken.
Two cars drive towards each other,
Britain and the EU: the first to swerve
loses. Mrs May would stick her head
out of the window and shout: “Don’t
worry, Mr Barnier, I have no intention
of hitting you!” She swerved every
Boris has his foot on the pedal like a
lunatic and is going at 100 miles per
hour. Rather than waste their breath
trying to dissuade him, Remainers
should concentrate their voices on the
EU car. “Swerve, Michel! For the love
of God, swerve!”

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Letters to the Editor

SIR – Liam Halligan (Comment, August
1) explains the problem of falling home
ownership in terms of a shortage of
housing leading to high (unaffordable)
prices. Indeed, he mentions that,
outside London and its hinterland, the
average price is eight times earnings.
In 1969 our first mortgage was five
times my husband’s earnings.
Given a free market, prices will
always reflect the balance between
supply and demand, and increased
supply will lead to lower prices (other
things being equal).
However, the matter of affordability,
rather than actual prices, is more
interesting. Three issues might be
important here. One is a wife’s income
(since the practice of using two
incomes to support a mortgage makes
more money chase the same housing
stock, which causes higher prices).
Two more factors are student loans
(a drain on earnings) and personal
spending habits (buying the latest
white and brown goods, holidays, etc).
We certainly need changes in
planning laws and an increased supply

of houses but these are not the only
factors. Social issues and people’s
expectations also play a large part in
decisions about home ownership.
Pamela Wheeler

SIR – Liam Halligan makes a
compelling case for making land more
affordable. Landowners chalk up high
profits each year while the chronic
shortage of social housing is causing
rising levels of homelessness and
Our research shows that as many as
145,000 affordable homes need to be
built each year to meet current
demand. A key way of doing this is by
reforming land laws to make land
cheaper. However, this alone won’t
solve the problem.
The Government urgently needs to
commit more funding to build social
housing, which has been drastically
cut over the last decade. To build the
homes needed requires £12.8 billion
each year for the next 10 years.
If Boris Johnson is serious about

uniting the country, he must make
tackling the housing crisis a central
policy focus of his premiership.
Kate Henderson
Chief Executive, National Housing
London WC

SIR – In our eighth decade, my wife
and I have had the chance to acquire a
small piece of land and build a house
suitable for a future of reduced
mobility. We wanted fewer bedrooms
but more living space and no stairs.
We began to plan a bungalow but
found that a design allowing the later
construction of a second floor would
be desirable. It became clear that
actually building the upstairs was
more practical and beneficial, partly as
20 per cent VAT was avoided.
We therefore live happily
downstairs in a large chalet bungalow,
now redundant upstairs, but which, in
not so many years to come, will be
most suitable for a larger family.
David Leech
Balcombe, West Sussex

How a wife’s income leads to fewer people owning their own homes Misfiring Barmy Army

SIR – Can I heartily congratulate the
English spectators who derided and
booed with gusto the Australian
batsman Steve Smith, hoping that this
would cause him to feel
uncomfortable and fail with the bat?
A century in the first innings and
142 in the second would suggest the
idiots got it wrong – again.
Bruce Williams

SIR – Am I alone in regarding the
cricket fans in the “Barmy Army” as
completely beyond the pale?
Their booing of Steve Smith on his
dismissal typified their nasty jingoistic
attitudes. Of course, witty little ditties
such as We Saw You Cry on the Telly are
to be much admired for their
Even more disconcerting are
comments of pundits on Sky and Test
Match Special who really should know
better. I would ask them to stop giving
these boorish fans their approbation.
Peter Wilkinson
Belper, Derbyshire

SIR – Watching the coverage of the
cricket at Edgbaston, it was lovely to
see shots of retired players and of fans
in amusing fancy dress. I found it such
a refreshing change from Wimbledon,
where most crowd shots are of
“celebrities”, most of whom seem to
have little interest in the game.
Tony Manning
Barton on Sea, Hampshire

NHS’s poor spending

SIR – You argue (Leading article,
August 5) that money will not solve the
crisis in the NHS. However, improving
money management might have some
impact. From ministers down to local
trust finance chiefs, taxpayers’ money
has been badly managed for too long.
Keeping the cost of new hospitals
off the balance sheet has resulted in
hugely expensive PFI projects. There
is a long record of paying far too much
for drugs and equipment. The NHS
spends hundreds of thousands of
pounds training doctors, only to rent
them back at extortionate rates from
get-rich-quick agencies.
The NHS is the largest employer in
Britain and its pension scheme is
unfunded. That is the most expensive
way by far for an employer to provide
a pension, and it is sucking a lot of
money out of the NHS’s core business.
As with so much in the public
sector, governments look the other
way instead of confronting the
problem. Blaming an ageing
population is just a little too
Bill Parish
Bromley, Kent

SIR – What other organisation would
have a £1.8 billion cash injection
described as a “drop in the ocean”?
Simon Olley
Kemsing , Kent

SIR – You rightly say that money alone
will not solve the crisis in the NHS.
Dominic Cummings should be
available for a new job on November 1

  • just enough time to sort out the NHS
    before winter.
    Thomas W Jefferson
    Howden, East Yorkshire

Cyclists block London

SIR – On Sunday I had to walk five
miles to visit an 88-year-old
housebound friend because roads
were closed across London to
accommodate a bicycle ride.
Why should thousands of members
of the public have their weekend
spoiled so that cyclists can clog up the
roads on a jolly?
Gill Tweed
London SW

Holocaust memorial

SIR – The Archbishop of Canterbury
claims that locating the Holocaust
Memorial and Learning Centre “right
next to the home of our democracy”
would have powerful symbolism
(report, August 3). But why exactly?
The Holocaust was not caused by a
lack of democracy but by racial and
religious hatred, against which
democracy is not necessarily a
protection. The symbolism of
Parliament relates to something
different, namely making rulers
accountable to the people. There is no
reason why placing a Holocaust
memorial near it will have any effect
on the views of politicians or the
actions of future governments.
A memorial and a learning centre
commemorating the murder of six
million people would surely be
powerful enough in its own right.
Locating it next to Parliament will add
little to its impact, but will impose a
huge building project on a small and
precious riverside park.
The Archbishop is perhaps unaware
that no comparison of alternative sites
has been made, or that the UK
Holocaust Memorial Foundation chose
Victoria Tower Gardens on the day it
was proposed, with the prime minister
announcing it a mere 14 days later.
In its present form, the project is an
example of the political class virtue
signalling at the expense of ordinary
Londoners. The Government should
reopen the search for a suitable site.
Dr Dorian Gerhold
London SW

US gun control

SIR – Whether or not the right to bear
arms should still be part of the
American constitution is debatable.
But surely who can own them is not.
Peter Scott
Clevedon, Somerset

Sporting sermons

SIR – Sport in cathedrals (Letters,
August 5) is nothing new. Sermon
cricket has been played in Winchester
Cathedral by generations of pupils at
the Pilgrims’ School.
The rules are recorded in the back
of a hymn book and attribute runs,
wickets, catches, etc, to certain key
ecclesiastical words. It is a very
satisfactory arrangement, giving the
impression of studious concentration.
Appeals have to be stifled, of course.
A friend of mine once achieved the
remarkable feat of six sixes in an over
during an address by the Dean.
Alex McKinlay
Farnham, Surrey

Water, water everywhere: heavy rain at Lumsdale Falls, Derbyshire, in the Peak District


sir – The Peak District is renowned
for its open views and easy walking
on smooth, grassy hills.
The downside is that rain runs
into the rivers and streams quickly,
which can result in rapid flooding.
This National Park area is critical as
it lies between major urban areas

  • Manchester to the west, Sheffield
    to the east, and Leeds and Bradford
    slightly further to the north. There
    are dozens of reservoirs around the
    edges of the park, and the situation
    at Whaley Bridge (report, August 5)
    could affect many similar sites.
    The park authorities should
    consider planting large areas with
    trees to curb runoff in the most
    dangerous watersheds. This would
    not mean losing all of the open
    ground, but it would allow for more
    effective water management.
    Professor Arthur Morris
    Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire

sir – Today, no one in their right
mind would construct a significant
reservoir immediately above the
dwellings of 6,500 people.
The solution at Whaley Bridge?

Drain and abandon the reservoir,
construct channels large enough to
take away the water currently
draining into the reservoir in storm
conditions, and use the recovered
land for allotments and vegetable
growth. The time is right to relieve
these good people from the daily
anxiety they will otherwise face.
Robin Colby
Bickington, Devon

sir – The dam at Whaley Bridge is
managed by a charity that is also in
charge of 1,500 locks, 300 aqueducts
and other reservoirs of Victorian or
earlier vintage. It has tenuous
oversight by Defra. Another fact not
being considered is that there was a
flood in 1872 when twice as much
rain fell in half the time, without the
dam failing.
Is it appropriate for a charity to
run this kind of infrastructure
without rigorous oversight? And is
climate change really causing an
increase in extreme weather in this
area (Letters, August 5)?
Peter Owen
Woolpit, Suffolk

Why the Peak District is prone to flooding

SIR – The Royal Navy should invest in
Swedish Skjold-class corvettes.
These “surface-effect” stealth craft
can manage more than 60 knots, and
are ideally suited to covering distances
in relatively smooth waters such as
those in the Strait of Hormuz.
Dr Jim Finlayson
Beauly, Inverness-shire

SIR – Probably the most cost-effective

of the surface vessels deployed in the
Battle of the Atlantic were the sloops
used by the escort and hunter-killer
Would it not be possible to augment
the Navy’s operational capabilities by
building, say, a dozen of these ships?
They are economical, versatile and
able to carry a formidable armament.
Derek Walker

Corvettes are the key to a nimbler Navy


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