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Don’t give Boris time to do yet more damage

For the good of the country, the Tories must seek Johnson’s immediate eviction from No 10, writes one reader

Boris Johnson got stuck on a zip-line during BT London Live in Victoria Park back in 2012. Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Boris Johnson’s pseudo resignation allows him more latitude to do more damage and manufacture a crisis enabling him to hang on to power. If allowed to remain until October, he will duck and weave while trying to search for every possible reason why he should remain in power.

The Conservative party, for the good of the country, must seek Johnson’s immediate eviction from No 10 Downing Street and appoint an interim prime minister.
Ian Auchterlonie

Now that Johnson is going (if he is?), I will return my vote in national elections to Green, if one stands here, or Plaid Cymru as second choice. I was a Labour party member, but left when I saw Jeremy Corbyn cosying up to the Brexiteer vote. Now I see Sir Keir Starmer is back in the same place.

But I am English, having lived in Wales for 40 years, and will vote in Senedd elections for Drakeford’s Labour, as a party here with shreds of collectivist spirit. For Plaid to get my unstinting support in Welsh elections, it would need to tone down the rhetoric of some members who will not recognise that people like me have lived longer in Wales than where we were born. Wales is my home, it’s where my immediate loyalty lies, so some of you acknowledge that, because there are many like me.
Chris Clode

We keep hearing about the huge mandate the Conservatives gained in the 2019 General Election. In fact Labour and the Liberal Democrats got more votes. It is only because of the electoral system we share with Belarus that this was not reflected in the allocation of seats.
Jamie Sharpley

Boris Johnson is correct in his analysis of his Tory colleagues, but the weakness and herd mentality they displayed was in choosing him as a seemingly suitable leader in the first place, not in their belated decision that he should go.

The Tories constantly remind the Labour party of their ownership of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. The Labour party now must return the favour with interest.

Boris Johnson, former leader of the Conservative party, is the albatross that must be hung around the necks of Conservatives for generations to come, with the reality of his likeness hanging on the staircase at No 10 Downing Street as a reminder to all who follow him that hubris, venality and self-regard are poor foundations on which to build one’s legacy, and are a deadly choice for a political party in search of votes.
Jon Southerington

Chain reaction

I enjoyed Charlie Connelly’s piece on the Chernobyl “Zone” in TNE #298. His observation that the occupying Russian troops stole all the kettles but left the baseplates behind made me think of something my grandfather told me. He was with the occupying forces in Berlin at the end of the war, and met some Russian soldiers who had never seen a toilet before and were peeling potatoes in the bowl. Then somebody decided to pull the chain, and the whole lot disappeared. They were very put out, apparently.
John Pritchard

Generation Z

As every week, I turned first to Peter Trudgill’s column, today (TNE #299) looking at redundant letters. He identified three, C, Q and X, with decent arguments. Four hundred and fifteen years ago William Shakespeare had Kent say, “Thou whoreson zed! Thou unnecessary letter!”. Why did Peter miss this? We must be told!
John Young

As a keen reader of Peter Trudgill’s excellent and stimulating column in TNE, I take delight in his comments regarding the rightness or wrongness of certain usages and of the unfortunate strictures inflicted upon our language by past scholars attempting to fit English into a Latin straightjacket. Whenever I am asked by my European friends whether something is “correct” I always reply that it is better to substitute the word “appropriate” as language is flexible and liable to change. A standard dictionary form has to exist, of course, but that is also subject to change over the decades.
Alan Purslow
Stokenchurch, Bucks

Keir’s stance

I read Zoe Williams’s conclusions (TNE #299) about Sir Keir Starmer’s statement on Brexit. I really don’t think she understands the issues and why Sir Keir took the line he did. The standing of the UK in the European Union is now abysmal. They really do not want to get further involvement in the delusions of the UK for a very long time. Politics, as we know, is the art of the possible.

What is currently possible and is urgent is to dramatically improve our trading relationship with the EU. That can be done even within Lord Frost’s useless deal. We can align with EU standards and that would immediately reduce the stifling burden of bureaucracy and solve the Northern Ireland Protocol problem.

In a matter of years, once we have demonstrated a grasp of reality, a return to the EU may be possible and even probable. At present Sir Keir’s plan is the right one.
Robert Graham

Excellent article by Zoe Williams re Keir Starmer saying he is going to make Brexit work (TNE #299). Indeed “tactically and ethically wrong”.

In a tweet to him, I described his new policy as “flogging a dead horse”.

It has been a painfully slow realisation that Brexit has been a disaster. However, many of our great British public have woken up to the fact that Brexit is failing miserably. Our leading financial institutions are reporting the statistics. Even some leading Tories are saying we need to repair our relations with the EU.

Keir Starmer should sack the saboteur luminary in his inner circle who advised that “Labour will make Brexit work” was a vote-winning strategy. It is a derisory idea and just not believable.

Unrepentant Remainers in their millions, just like me, who do we vote for come the next general election?
Ian Sanderson
Chiswick, London

Prison blues

I enjoyed reading Sophia Deboick’s Bars Beyond Bars piece (TNE #297) about music’s association with imprisonment.

But an opportunity was missed to list blues guitarist BB King’s wonderful Live in Cook County Jail, which has three priceless moments.

The first two are in the compère’s introduction, when she points out that “It’s a beautiful day in Chicago…”, possibly unaware how well this would go down with a room full of men not at liberty to appreciate it; she goes on to introduce them to the invited dignitaries, which hilariously include the local sheriff and chief justice, who of course they all will have met at least once – cue audience laughter turning to booing; and finally, in How Blue Can You Get?, the much-loved BB sings the line: “I gave you seven children, and now you wanna give ’em back…”.
David White

Social illness

I feel it is wise to suggest a brief addendum to Paul Mason’s splendid article (The ultra right are turning our world into the last days of cabaret, TNE #299).

We are also facing the return of preventable infectious childhood diseases: anti-vaxxers have always been chipping away at long-established proven medical practices, but thanks to the pandemic and the parallel campaign peddling lies about vaccines, many more people have been drawn into this insanity.

Already a major concern around polio has been flagged up and it will not be long before others start to raise their ugly heads: pertussis, measles, diphtheria etc.

This small army are well-financed, chiefly by the far right, and with third-rate celebrities influencing the hard of thinking, I see little chance of us avoiding a future epidemic that will cause the death and disablement of a number of children.

I hope it will not take the return of pre-war suffering for people to realise how vital childhood immunisations are – and some adult ones for that matter.
Robert Boston

Little mistake

I read Allan Little’s discourse on independence for Scotland (TNE #299) with absolute amazement and not a little incredulity.

I too was born in the 1930s and I remember the total dismissal from Westminster to the Scots that Elizabeth should be First of Scotland and Second of England. Absolute dismissal. Our opinion counted for nothing then and counts for nothing now. This was the moment I vowed I would always vote and fight for independence. I was 14 years old.

For your writer to talk about the British empire with warmth appals me. The British were brutal in their treatment of the colonies and still are.

The Scots are treated as second-class citizens in Westminster, we have all witnessed it, it is disgusting. I think your writer needs to do a bit more investigating of the Scottish people and their history with England. It does not make pleasant reading.

People down south are given an anglified version of the Scottish people and believe all the rubbish about them being subsidised by the English, which is actually a blatant lie.

Scotland, which recently voted 62% to remain in the EU, was basically told to get back in its box and the big boys would take over. It’s this kind of behaviour that does nothing to make us want to stay in this corrupt union.

I will tell you right now, Scotland will be out of the union next year, and no, we won’t be leaving with any debts. That is more spurious talk by someone who doesn’t know his subject.

Incidentally, Westminster can NOT stop the Scots from having a referendum. The Scottish people are sovereign and have the right to choose how and by whom they are governed. This is written in the Treaty of Union of 1707.
Jill Nicoll

“Should there be Scottish disunion with the UK?” would rightly be rejected as a referendum question because of its negative evaluative content. “Should the UK be independent of the EU?” was presumably rejected for similar reasons.

Yet that is the form of question and language that is accepted when discussing Scotland, including by TNE. Why? Use of such language encourages the portrayal of anyone who supports the union as a traitor and encourages disunion in its daily language sense. Neutral language should be found.
Colin Garwood

Thanks to Allan Little for spelling out why Scotland is looking to a new future (Will Scotland really turn its back on the union? TNE #299).

The answer is yes, because the main political parties at Westminster have turned their backs on Scotland. Last week Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour party committed ritual suicide as far as the Scottish electorate is concerned. The needs of the Red Wall voters in England trumped everything.

Yes, we will impose a hard Brexit on you Scotland, even though you overwhelmingly voted against it, and no, you can’t vote on independence although the majority in Scotland voted to exercise this right at the last election. This is precisely the Tories’ stance.

So now the future will be decided not just by the SNP and the Scottish Greens but by local non-party-political “yes” groups right across the country, and their communities.
Stuart Campbell

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A local resident walks as a wildfire rages near the village of Gouves, on Euboea island, second largest Greek island, on August 8, 2021. - Hundreds of firefighters battled a blaze on the outskirts of Athens as several fires raged in Greece. Photo: ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images

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