Sir, – Over the matter of just a few days the UK’s standing in the world has further diminished as the impact of Brexit becomes more tangible.
Earlier this week the relocation of two EU agencies currently based in London was announced.
The European Medicines Agency will move to Amsterdam, while the European Banking Authority will be lost to Paris, which narrowly pipped Dublin to host this prestigious organisation.
Between them, the two agencies employ 1,150 people, as well as attracting thousands of visiting researchers and staff members to London.
This is despite Brexit Secretary David Davis, previously voicing his hope, with more than a little naivety dare I say, that the agencies could remain in London. To add insult to injury the UK will have to pay for the relocation.
In addition to this, the UK has withdrawn its candidate from election to the UN International Court of Justice. It will be the first time since the founding of the UN that Britain will not have a judge on its most powerful court.
The move comes after the UK suffered a blow to its diplomatic prestige last week when, after five rounds of simultaneous voting by the Security Council and the General Assembly in New York, four judges from Brazil, Lebanon, France and Somalia were chosen for the bench ahead of the UK’s candidate, Sir Christopher Greenwood.
This is clearly a further sign of the UK’s increasing irrelevance on the world stage following the decision to leave the European Union.
As the UK turns inwards following the Brexit vote, it is hardly a surprise that it is no longer able to command the global influence it once did.
No blame, no claim
Sir, – The Chancellor’s whimsical, headline grabbing wheeze of presumably electrically powered “driverless cars” seems to be ahead of its time – and somewhat ahead of the technology.
I picture a situation where in the event of, for example, a collision (in America recently, a driverless bus was reported as being involved in an accident within minutes of its introduction) the passengers in the vehicles simply walking away… it was of course, nothing to do with them…
What then is the attitude of the insurance companies to this visionary proposal?
13 South Street,
Sir, – The budget brought some good news for Scots. There is to be a cash injection of an extra £2 billion over the rest of this parliament, duty on whisky is frozen (again), and the VAT incurred so recklessly by the SNP Government on the emergency services is to be discontinued.
What is the response of the SNP? To invoke their long-time legal advisers, Moan, Whinge and Grievance.
Changes to taxation and stamp duty in the rest of the UK leave Scotland as the highest taxed part of the UK, with more tax hikes in Scotland likely in the imminent Scottish Budget. This leaves Scotland as a less attractive place to do business, or – given Land and Buildings Transaction Tax – to live than the rest of the UK. No doubt we will see the results of that in the near future.
The UK Government made a terrible mistake in devolving tax powers to Holyrood. There should be a uniform fiscal regime for the whole of the UK.
Jill Stephenson.Glenlockhart Valley,Edinburgh.
Sir, – I was astounded by Chief Superintendent Paul Anderson’s statement that driving and using a mobile phone offences had reduced by 84%.
I am not sure where the police get these figures but it certainly is not in Carnoustie.
Myself and everyone I know see phone usage and driving on numerous occasions every day in life.
I will expect the police to say they cannot be everywhere, but in the next few weeks we will see police patrols everywhere in the annual festive season crackdown, so where are these patrols now?
110 Caesar Avenue,
A case of us and them
Sir, – I believe that one important point has been overlooked regarding Kezia Dugdale’s absence from Holyrood, in order to take part in a lucrative junket in Australia.
She has, without permission, absented herself from her employment. This, I contend, is gross misconduct and should be dealt with appropriately.
I have no doubt, had she been employed as an administrative, clerical or maintenance worker, she would have been disciplined, and would probably now be seeking alternative employment.
Them and us.
17 Goshen Terrace,
Sir, – The SNP reaction to the Budget once again demonstrates its government by grievance approach.
Scotland already benefits by some £9 billion a year from the rest of the UK to help fill the large hole in our public finances. Yet when Philip Hammond says there will be an extra £2bn for Scotland over four years, it is dismissed as “smoke and mirrors” and a “con” by the SNP, because much of it is conditional on being used in financing housing and growth initiatives.
No doubt the SNP would prefer it were available for more of their giveaways, as they continue to try to draw attention away from the failures in Scotland’s essential public services.
In next month’s Holyrood budget it will be interesting to see how Finance Secretary Derek Mackay justifies his proposed tax increases when the money already raised is in so many instances demonstrably mismanaged or spent for popularity rather than where the need is greatest.
No response to offer
Sir, – I refer to the article of November 15 and a call from Perth and Kinross Council for volunteers to clear footpaths and pavements this winter,which received a frosty reception.
My experience was that as I own a small contracting business in the area,this task might be of some interest to me over the winter months.
I called the council on the telephone number advertised on November 16 at 11.45am and left my details with a lady who informed me that the person dealing with this matter would return my call.
My call was not returned. A shocking state of affairs, considering someone with a great deal of experience has called in to perhaps offer their services for free.
Perhaps my call was lost in their newly refurnished “swanky tower”?
Crook of Devon.
Smoke and mirrors
Sir, – On reading the article “New play park in line to be smoke-free zone” (November 16), I was reminded of GK Chesterton’s comment on the journalist Mr Hibbs in his book, The Flying Inn.
He wrote that Mr Hibbs had a great talent for the trick of dismissing the important part of the question as if it could wait, and appearing to get to business on the unimportant part of it.
Councillor Julie Bell states that we all want our children to be healthy. She then states that it is a huge aspiration of hers that all our play parks are smoke-free zones.
She implicitly links these two statements, although I can find no evidence that an outdoor smoking ban will have any effect on children’s health.
I can visualise Ms Bell and her colleagues leaving the council meeting and patting themselves on the back at having achieved something.
They have not achieved anything except headlines.
Stop using window dressing in place of effective interventions.
Teach na Cluana,