Leave we must
Sir: It is interesting that as the Brexit process drags, people become more distanced from what was a simple decision made at the referendum. The question was stay or leave, and the decision was leave.
In last week’s letters, Mark Pender writes that it is a mystery to him why MPs continue to support the decision to leave despite knowing it is against the country’s interests. I would venture to say that it is most certainly not ‘known’ to be against the country’s best interests. Pender goes on to say that this decision flies in the face of advice ‘from the civil service and others who have a strong understanding of the subject’, which smacks of the same deference to so-called ‘experts’ that many have had enough of. The hopelessly wrong claim from the Treasury that 500,000 jobs would be lost on voting to leave should prove we do not know what will happen.
My own view is that the UK is such an energetic and economically and culturally rich nation that it would have been fine if it stayed in the EU and it will be fine if it leaves. The country will not, however, be fine if politicians change the rules to try to sneak their way out of following through on the democratic decision to leave.
No prep for no deal
Sir: Anthony Browne suggests that fears of a no-deal Brexit are analogous with the ‘millennium bug effect’ where he says, despite predicted disaster, nothing happened (‘Who’s afraid of no deal?’, 13 July). But that’s wholly misleading. It’s true that disasters were largely (not entirely) avoided. But that was only because warnings were heeded and acted upon — necessitating vast amounts of detailed, difficult, boring and unglamorous work. I fear that may not be true of preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Sir: I couldn’t agree more with Elisa Segrave on her views regarding people being too obsessed with being part of a couple (‘All by myself’, 6 July). Why is it that women still feel a failure if they have not managed to bag a man? I have felt stifled when I have been part of a couple and am far happier solo. Too often the man takes the lead in social interactions, and the woman is left trailing in his wake. Unfortunately there still remains an insidious pressure to be part of a couple in many social situations even today. As Madame de Stael said: ‘The more I see of men, the more I like dogs.’
Classics and the zeitgeist
Sir: Peter Jones is rightly scornful of comments made by Rufus Norris, the National Theatre’s artistic director, that ancient plays will from now on be updated with a ‘modern twist’ to ‘bring in a fresh audience’ (‘Tragedy and validity’, 6 July). Plays should be presented not twisted. But he is wrong that ancient tragedy was ‘sadly lacking in modern concerns’ such as ‘feminism, gender, identity, rights, phobias, taking offence, victimhood, equality, globalism and diversity’. One need only think of Euripides’ Medea, whom her husband, Jason, describes as ‘a she-lion, not a woman’, or Antigone’s staunch defence of her right to bury her dead brother in that play by Sophocles, or the plays’ general concern with the offence-taking of the gods and its implications. Rufus Norris should be given full licence to tease some of these concerns out of the zeitgeist, but he must do so without losing sight of the larger tapestry of the play and without instructing his audience how to think in the process.
Sir: Sahil Mahtani’s article inevitably brought to mind the old wartime story of the RAF Flying Officer who was promoted to Flight Lieutenant with effect from 1 January 1941 (‘Sue the Normans!’, 13 July). A typing mistake made it 1041 and he thought it would be a good jape to apply for his back pay. To his amazement he got a favourable reply from a wag in the Air Ministry. ‘We have considered and accept your application and have calculated the arrears due to you as £9,500 10s 6d. Unfortunately, you appear to be the sole survivor from the Battle of Hastings and are therefore responsible for the loss of life and equipment from that occasion. We have calculated the loss at £9,600 and you therefore owe us £99 9s 6d. His Majesty has been graciously pleased to cancel your debt.’
From a fellow sufferer
Sir: Melissa Kite has saved my life emotionally speaking on at least two occasions when buying houses, so I would like to offer her some personal advice with regards to her headaches in case they come back (Real life, 13 July). I cracked my neck while rally-driving many years back and have suffered mean headaches ever since. Forget osteopaths. Find a good private physiotherapist and try aspirin. The doctor will have a fit if you so much as mention the drug, but I have taken it for 30-odd years with no evil effects. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists provides more helpful, careful people than you could need.
Sir: Chris Mullin’s otherwise balanced and accurate review (13 July) of my new book 15 Minutes of Power: the Uncertain Life of British Ministers contains an unfortunate error. I am not the current director of the Institute for (not of) Government. I was in charge for nearly five years up to 2016, but I have not been director for nearly three years. That post has since been admirably filled by Bronwen Maddox.