The Spectator

Letters | 26 October 2017

Also: French vs UK law; perceived hate crime; acquiring grit; love of the index

Meeting halfway

Sir: If our Brexit negotiator David Davis has not read Robert Tombs’s wonderful article ‘Lost in translation’ (21 October) on how different the French and the British can be when it comes to the negotiating table, he really should, as it splendidly exemplifies how useful history can be.

The trouble is, of course, that politicians are often too busy to read history, or that historians get round to writing something useful too late to exert practical influence. In this instance, however, there is still time: manufactured deadlines can be adjusted, and (given adequate cross-cultural empathy) accommodations can be reached.
Brian Harrison


The law in France

Sir: Robert Tombs highlights the differences between the UK and France brilliantly. My prime reason for voting for Brexit is that the laws in these two countries are basically different. Here, they are essentially made from grass roots upwards, our Common Law. There, they come down from the top, Napoleonic Law. The former have the respect of the people, and are generally adhered to; in France there is the sense that they are imposed from the top, and are therefore held in some contempt. So when I need something that’s been banned in the EU, I will not find it in the UK, but put it on my list for my next visit to France.
Martin Bloomfield

Kingston, Surrey

Perceived hostility

Sir: Those concerned over the ever-increasing limitation to free speech so aptly reported in Lionel Shriver’s recent article (‘The young oppress their future selves’, 21 October) might have their anxieties doubled having read the Crown Prosecution Service’s Public statement on prosecuting racist and religious hate crime from August this year:

‘We have agreed with the police a shared definition. This is wider than the legal definition [previously agreed]… to ensure that we capture all relevant cases:

‘Any incident/crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or religion or perceived race or religion … the presence of any such motivation or hostility will mean it is more likely that a prosecution is required.

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