EU partners are NOT our enemies

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I ignored Cyril Olsen’s letter a few weeks ago which claimed as correct Boris Johnson’s assertion that after leaving the EU we could go on trading with the EU exactly as we have done as members, without any problems whatever.

The last few weeks have illustrated just how many problems have to be addressed on agriculture, aviation, manufacturing, the Northern Ireland border, Euratom etc. Our economy was one of the fastest growing in the G7 but is now the slowest, costing billions in lost revenue before we have even left, because companies are reluctant to invest other than moving their businesses into the European Single Market.

Mr Olsen has now moved into Second World War mode, (June 20), depicting our nearest neighbours and friends as allegedly engaged in a “war” with the UK, imposing “shackles” upon us and preventing us from trading with countries outside the EU. Strange that Germany exports four times what we do to China within the rules of the EU! As members we enjoy existing trade agreements with many non-EU countries which we shall have to renegotiate post-Brexit. It is gradually dawning on David Davis and Liam Fox that the rest of the world want access to the much larger EU single market and are unlikely to give us better trading terms than we already enjoy. Donald Trump has made it very clear his only interest is that of “America first”.

We are not a weak small country “bullied” by 27 other countries ganging up on us. When we were playing a full constructive role within the EU we were able to help shape EU policies on the environment, workers’ rights, consumer rights, air and water quality etc. As for immigration, we could use measures employed by other EU countries to insist jobs are all advertised locally before looking elsewhere, and restrict access to benefits to newcomers for a certain amount of time. There was a very narrow vote – 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent – in favour of Leave, but that was before many of the problems involved were made clear. It is important that there should be a meaningful vote by our elected representatives on the final deal, and it is not treachery to say so when the vote was so close as to hardly be the “settled will of the people” as some would have it. (37 per cent of the total electorate voted Leave.)

Mr Martin, (June 19), seems to believe the way to get what you want is to be totally offensive to people you are negotiating with, and this is somehow patriotic. Could I remind both these gentlemen that Winston Churchill in 1948 saw a “United States of Europe” as a way forward to avoid the terrible ravages of war which killed and maimed millions of people in both world wars, and left nearly every major city in ruins and agricultural land destroyed, leading to food shortages.

There is a dangerous nationalism around, both in Britain and in many other countries worldwide. If we are to build a safer world for our children and grandchildren we need to work cooperatively and constructively with other countries to build peace, particularly with our nearest neighbours, as Churchill realised.

Veronica Hardstaff

Northfield Court, S10