Let's keep debate on Brexit civilised

I was sorry to read the very different tone of Matthew Hobson's letter, (January 16), from the civilised exchange of views I had with him through your columns before the EU referendum.

Friday, 20th January 2017, 5:58 am
Updated Friday, 20th January 2017, 6:02 am

Carol Sykes, (January 11), made some reasonable points, though I did not agree with her attack on Paul Blomfield for supporting signing Article 50. As Paul wrote in his letter, we need to know details.

The referendum vote was very close, and Nigel Farage made very clear, before the vote, that if the percentage had been the reverse, he would have continued to campaign to leave the EU. Using expressions like “high and mighty attitude”, “bumptious Brussels elite” and “Remoaners” is not the way to bring people together.

Now we have heard Theresa May’s speech, we are still not any clearer as to what sort of trading partnership we will continue to have with the biggest economic block in the world, one to which we currently have total access and a say as to the trading rules.

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She appears to believe, as does Matthew, that we can continue to enjoy all the benefits without obeying the rules or making any contribution to the costs, as we do as the second (possibly third since the devaluation of the pound) largest economy in the EU.

It remains to be seen as to what deal can be achieved in the real world. It is not for nothing that many of our key industries, universities and research centres are very anxious, to say nothing of regions like South Yorkshire.

Local authorities are very sceptical as to whether a Tory-led administration, which has been cutting their grants savagely, will suddenly notice the hardship being caused, as the EU did and put in extra funding when the mining and steel jobs were destroyed, and post Brexit make good not only the EU funding, but all the other millions cut from local budgets.

Also, do we really trust a Tory government to protect workers’ rights after the recent huge increase in zero hours’ contracts and loopholes in paying the minimum wage?

I am pleased that the Prime Minister has agreed that both houses of Parliament will have a vote on the final package, so that it can be thoroughly debated.

If it becomes clear that the package is not what voters were led to believe would happen, ie that we would somehow all be better off if we leave the EU, then MPs and Lords should vote accordingly to safeguard the interests of the British people, and indeed of the EU as a whole.

Veronica Hardstaff

Northfield Court, S10