Leavers only, please
Sir: Your leading article (‘The end of May’, 25 May) correctly calls for the Conservative party to establish itself as ‘unequivocally the party of Brexit’. The meltdown at the EU elections confirmed this is now the only course of action open to it, if it wishes to survive. Conservative MPs should show they have finally woken up to reality. They need to send the membership two candidates with impeccable Leave credentials, and who are not in the current cabinet.
Placing any Remain-tainted candidates on the shortlist would display MPs’ continuing contempt for the party’s activists, supporters and donors. It would also show a curious lack of interest in their own job security.
(Former special adviser to John Major, No. 10 Policy Unit)
Learning the lesson
Sir: The fiasco of Theresa May’s ‘negotiations’ over Brexit should have taught all rational people that the EU will not renegotiate a deal so advantageous to itself when it is obvious that the British negotiators have not been serious about just walking away. Yet now we have Tory Remainer and would-be party leader Rory Stewart (who, incidentally, bears an alarming resemblance to Zarin, Masterspy’s henchman in Gerry Anderson’s Supercar TV series) telling us that there can be no question of leaving the EU without a deal, but that with his powers of persuasion he will obtain an acceptable withdrawal agreement. It leaves me wondering whether Mr Stewart and his ilk are fools, or whether they take the rest of us for fools.
Lest we forget
Sir: In his paean to Nigel Farage, Rod Liddle says he ‘cannot think of a single individual in the past 50 years who could have created, out of nothing, a movement such as the Brexit party’ (‘The Brexit party delusion’, 18 May). Could I jog his memory?
James Goldsmith created the Referendum party out of nothing in 1994. By the 1997 general election it had secured 160,000 registered supporters, and forged a highly effective national and local campaign structure. It is undeniable that the party’s establishment and exponential growth helped to save us from the euro. The Referendum party stood in 547 constituencies, and, while not winning a single seat, performed better than any minor party in history up to that point.
Margaret Thatcher said that James Goldsmith was ‘one of the most powerful and dynamic personalities that this generation has seen’, and she was quite right. Had Jimmy not been taken from us so soon after the 1997 election (he died of pancreatic cancer just over two months later), I have no doubt that his ‘Rabble Army’ — of which I was a proud member — would have become a considerable force in British politics. Indeed, the fact that the Tories eventually became the Conservative-Referendum party is testimony to his passion, ability and political prescience. If he were alive today, Brexit would have been done long ago.
Dr Adrian Hilton
Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire
Sir: As a long-time reader of Rod Liddle’s witty columns I was somewhat taken aback at his mischaracterisation of the American political commentator Ben Shapiro whom he labelled as ‘alt-right’ (‘The Brexit party delusion’, 18 May). Shapiro — as he mentioned in his interview with Andrew Neil — is a member of the Republican party and holds traditional conservative opinions and values. He has repeatedly voiced his disdain for the alt-right and according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League he was the number one recipient of anti- Semitic abuse on Twitter in 2016: much of it from the alt-right.
Closing the gap
Sir: It is not correct to state, as Derinda Marston does (Letters, 25 May), that Education Policy Institute research shows the school attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers ‘has widened since 2007’. On the contrary, over the past decade, the gap has closed at the end of both primary and secondary education.
Our research shows, however, that the closing of the gap has stalled in recent years. This should concern all those who want to see a society where life chances are less determined by background and parental income.
Rt Hon David Laws,
Education Policy Institute, London SW1
Oo, you are offal
Sir: Laura Freeman (Snog a Tory, 18 May) may be comforted to know there are plenty of people in England who aren’t as squeamish as she suggests — and for whom sweetbreads, kidneys, hearts, brawn, chits are part of a normal diet and always have been. We also eat what we are given, which is disagreeable when badly cooked and ridiculous when fashion led, but helped us survive rationing, school lunches, and other stretches of real austerity.
England, their England
Sir: I was not aware that England has ‘her own government’ (Conrad Black’s Diary, 25 May). Or perhaps the current Brexit chaos at Westminster is an English problem, not a British one.
Ettrickbridge, Scottish Borders
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