Carmakers holding back investment in Britain is not just about Brexit

7 July 2018 9:00 AM

Technical issues

Sir: Martin Vander Weyer’s supposition that car manufacturers are holding back investment due to Brexit seems to be wishful thinking (Any other business, 30 June). Having worked for years for one of the largest international vehicle manufacturers in both finance and export, I can assure him that the investment cycle is almost entirely to do with the product and almost not at all with political concerns.

Car manufacturers, and particularly German ones, are faced with several serious issues which have nothing to do with Brexit. The diesel emissions manipulation issue and whether diesel engines are acceptable will impact on their decisions about petrol vs diesel engine lines, and the likely share of the market available to hybrid and electric cars. Each of them will require major investment decisions by model mix.

These are very difficult and substantial medium- and long-term problems which will be occupying their minds far more, and for far longer, than the potential of a small WTO tariff. A delay in investment decisions is a sure sign that they are working on these major technical issues.
Anthony Brookes
Charlwood, Surrey

Medical cannabis

Sir: Ross Clark’s bad science (‘Bad science of cannabis oil’, 23 June) perfectly demonstrates the need for better debate around the therapeutic benefits of cannabis where it is administered to treat serious and devastating diseases, such as epilepsy.


Paediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy is a cruel disease. Repeated assaults on the child’s brain, often daily and over years, can lead to severe cognitive and physical disabilities. The life expectancy of these children is short. Peer-reviewed publications since the 1970s have documented that certain cannabinoids may be effective at controlling seizures.

Billy Caldwell was prescribed Tilray’s 2:100. Unlike many other cannabis oils on the market, this is a precisely defined oral solution containing reliable and reproducible concentrations of cannabinoids including THC. The product is produced in a facility that is regularly inspected and is certified to produce pharmaceutical grade products. The dosing of this product is based on a trial conducted at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children by a team of experts in paediatric epilepsy. Based on the Health Canada-approved clinical trial completed earlier this year, they understand the side effects, the potential drug-drug interactions and the safety profile of Tilray’s 2:100. The current state of medical cannabis use in diseases for which approved medications are insufficient is in its infancy. The discussion should no longer be about whether to provide access, but how to provide medically guided access. Medical use is not recreational use; these two very separate issues must be clearly separated for a humane drug policy that can meet patients’ needs while avoiding public health concerns over the widespread, general use of cannabis.
Dr Catherine Jacobson
Director of Clinical Research, Tilray Nanaimo, Canada

Charitable giving

Sir: On the subject of charities, Charles Moore gives us Jonathan Ruffer’s observation that the idea of HMRC getting ‘value’ for the money it foregoes in tax relief is ‘wrongly conceived, as well as being morally repugnant’ (The Spectator’s Notes, 30 June). It should also not be forgotten that the reason HMRC forgoes tax on charitable giving is because personal income used for defined charitable purposes is exempt from taxation. Tax relief on charitable giving out of taxed income is not some gracious handout by HMRC, but the reimbursement to the donor of tax already paid.
Ian Ventham
Shitterton, Dorset

In a parallel universe

Sir: I listened to your Coffee House podcast about Danny Dyer’s David Cameron rant, and you appear to live in a parallel universe. It is true that Cameron probably expected to be in a coalition with the Lib Dems again in 2015 and to never have to fulfil the promise of an EU referendum. However it is absurd to lay the blame for the government’s disastrous handling of Brexit negotiations at Cameron’s door. After all, was it David Cameron or Theresa May who triggered Article 50 with no clear negotiating plan? Was it David Cameron or Theresa May who called a snap election in a fit of hubris only to lose their majority? Was it David Cameron or Theresa May who saw a complete breakdown in collective cabinet responsibility and who was too weak to sack their Foreign Secretary?

Those Brexiteers who are saying Cameron should have gone back to get a better deal before the referendum are the same ones who would now walk away in a heartbeat from negotiations with the EU. Their ideological purity rather than economic reality is what has left us in the mess we find ourselves in as the last grains in the Brexit egg timer disappear.
Chris Key
Twickenham, London

A doctor writes

Sir: Your leader about the NHS states that ‘when it comes to saving your life, an NHS hospital would not be your first choice’ (‘An unhappy birthday’, 30 June). As a retired NHS consultant who worked with both NHS and private patients, my first choice in such a situation would certainly not be the private sector. I suspect most doctors would agree with me.
Colin Cooper
London N6

John Jensen

We were sad to hear of the death of the illustrator and cartoonist John Jensen (1930–2018). A Spectator contributor for many years, particularly for our Schools magazine — he will be missed.