Yes to Boris
Sir: Get Boris (15 July)! Get Boris to be prime minister, in fact. He is the only possible candidate for the Conservatives who has the flair, the experience, the ideas and the sense of humour to rescue the party and the country from its current malaise. That he has opposition there is no doubt — but then so did Winston Churchill when he was recalled by Lloyd George in 1917 to be minister of munitions, and again in 1940 when he became prime minister. To sideline him at this time would be foolish in the extreme and a further example of the party’s ineptitude.
Sir: Dr Krall’s ‘The view from Germany’ (15 July), records the sadness of Germans and other Europeans at the response of the European Union to the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU. The article highlights two important and related truths, which are seldom, if ever, appreciated.
The departure negotiations are, in reality, three-sided. On the one hand there is the future relationship between the UK and 27 other countries. The essential point for that relationship is that free trade in goods and services is mutually beneficial. If anyone doubts this proposition, it can be proved mathematically through the law of comparative advantage. On the other hand, there is a discussion about the EU as an organisation and what it secures from the departure negotiations. In this regard the interests of the EU are divergent from or in opposition to the interests of both the 27 other countries and the UK. In order to secure for itself benefits beyond any value that it gives to its member countries, the EU has to assign to itself a future importance and omnipotence in order to justify its demands. The UK negotiators would do well to remember that the true supplicant in the Brexit negotiations is not the UK but rather the EU, which wants a lot but gives nothing.
Sir: ‘Why does the Conservative party not field candidates in Ulster constituencies?’, asks John Nugee (Letters, 15 July). Something must have stopped him studying the Province’s electoral history over the last 25 years. Superseded by the Ulster Unionist party in 1886, official Tory candidates, approved by Conservative Central Office, reappeared at the 1992 general election. They stood in 11 of Northern Ireland’s (then) 17 seats, winning a total of 44,608 votes (including 14,371 in North Down where the Tory came second). Since then Conservative party HQ has pumped in money and advice, but to no avail. In June, Tory candidates standing in seven seats gained a mere 3,875 votes between them. Sinn Fein and the DUP have turned Ulster politics into an ugly sectarian duopoly.
House of Lords, London SW1
A mixed race
Sir: Simon Barnes wonders if tennis player Johanna Konta is English (‘Game changers’, 15 July). It is a question answered more than 200 years ago by Daniel Defoe, who wrote in his poem ‘The True Born Englishman’ of our heterogenous populace that: ‘Fate jumbled them together, God knows how;/ What e’er they were they’re true-born English now…/…scarce one family is left alive,/ Which does not from some foreigner derive.’
Sir: Simon Barnes was pulling his punches when discussing English rugby players who are not actually English (Game changers, 15 July). While all international rugby teams are guilty of adding foreign-born players to their ranks under residency rules — which World Rugby is thankfully changing — the RFU is easily one of the worst offenders.
Billy Vunipola was mentioned, but what of his brother Mako (born in New Zealand)? Other ‘English’ players include: Ben Te’o and Denny Solomona (both New Zealand), Nathan Hughes (Fiji), Marland Yarde (St Lucia) and Manu Tuilagi (Samoa). Even the England captain, Dylan Hartley, isn’t English, having been born and raised in New Zealand. Ironically, Maro Itoje (who has Nigerian parents), and who was singled out by Mr Barnes in his piece, is one of the most English players in the team, having been born in England!
Sir: With respect, Mr Willis is not looking beyond the tip of his irritated nose when he complains about cigarette smoke (Letters, 15 July). I don’t care for cigarette smoke either, but the smoking ban has destroyed the rural public house, once a cultural asset and now an endangered species. Drive through the home counties of London and mourn the derelict pubs, their once-smart signs hanging forlorn.
Get involved, Melissa
Sir: Melissa Kite is obviously right to be cross about not being allowed to ride her horse in her village, and her point about excessive signage is well-made (Real Life, 15 July). But the subsequent rant against her parish councillors is slightly bonkers, particularly when she seems to support defacing signs and the smashing of car windows.
My experience as a parish councillor is that there are many who stand on the sidelines, moaning about this and that, and remarkably few who actually try to do something for their village. Maybe it’s time for Melissa to lend a hand.