Letters - November 7, 2017

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, and British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis address a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The EU and Britain concluded a fourth round of Brexit negotiations on Thursday. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, and British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis address a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The EU and Britain concluded a fourth round of Brexit negotiations on Thursday. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
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Have your say

Get your finances in order first Mr Barnier

Imagine, if you will, that you visit a bazaar while on holiday somewhere in the European Union. You spot something that you like, so ask how much the item will be to purchase, only to be asked how much you are prepared to pay, so you give the seller a price which he rejects and asks you to try again, and this goes on back and forth until you agree upon a price which seems to be acceptable to both you and the seller.

However, you always have that nagging doubt that you were still diddled on the price, even though you accepted it at the time.

Then imagine the seller is as good about his finances as Ken Dodd was about his tax accounting skills. How would you feel then that, for example, he has not had his costings and other finances audited and signed off as a true record? I expect you would be pretty miffed about it.

Now, for ‘seller’ read EU and for ‘buyer’ read the UK. Given that the EU expect us to ‘honour our financial commitments’ you would have expected M. Barnier to have itemised in detail what we owe and for why, so that we know exactly what the UK’s financial commitment (burden?) is going to be, yet he is still asking David Davis to tell him what the UK are prepared to pay. Why is Mr Barnier being so hesitant? Is that because the EU have never once in the last 20 years had its accounts signed off as a true record, so how can we possibly trust an organisation to come up with a true record of what we owe and for what? Just what have the EU to hide, Mr Barnier?

Indeed, when Mr. Davis asked for those specifics, Mr Barnier almost implied that we were ‘being difficult’. Well, I have some news for you, Mr Barnier, the UK is being difficult, because we just don’t trust you and we have good reason so to do.

Thus, M Barnier, it is up to you to prove to the UK that any figure we propose is a true reflection of what the UK owes the EU, not a penny more, so the first thing is to get your accounts signed off.

Neil Swindlehurst

Lancashire

POLITICS

Time to lower the age for voting

As a teacher I had always been sceptical about votes at 16 since many young people lack the maturity required to arrive at reasoned decisions. But of course so do many aged 61.

I changed my mind with the Scottish referendum when a whole generation of young people were galvanised to make decisions about their future and certainly did not follow what their elders suggested.

It’s a shame that we didn’t have votes at 16 in the EU membership referendum. If we had then this whole Brexit nightmare might have been avoided to everyone’s benefit. Certainly for young people who have been robbed of the opportunity to be involved in future Euopean cultural and social initiatives.

What’s needed now is a second referendum with votes for young people aged 16 and 17 included to ask if we want to remain part of the EEA, which includes the Single Market and the Customs Union. EEA membership wasn’t on the June 2016 ballot paper so to address that question separately is not asking people to vote again on the same issue as before. Of course I will remain a remainer as long as I remain.

When a single British provincial city has a qualitatively better public transport system than its continental equivalents then I’ll accept that the leavers might have a point. More chance as the French say of hens getting teeth, or pigs flying.

But young people planning their future preparing their university applications etc. should have the right to decide. Sixteen seems an appropriate age.

James Bovington

via email

SOCIETY

Help homeless by building shelters

Instead of putting up buildings and railways that no one wants, contributing taxpayers’ money to institutions like the EU, spending on insane schemes sponsored by the International Aid Programme, authorities both local and national should be spending the money in Britain to address the appalling level of homelessness in our country today.

Institutions in this country are crying out for investment while billions of pounds of our money are flittered away abroad every year by blinkered politicians and the presence of food banks in our towns and cities is a consequence of this.

Help the homeless by building more shelters.

G Kendall

Lancashire

SHOPPING

Support our local traders this year

We are rapidly heading toward the annual festive spendathon – for many it has already begun – and with everyone feeling so hard-pressed at the moment, I’ve no doubt finding the cash for presents is going to be harder than ever.

It’s so tempting to buy the same mass-produced rubbish everyone is giving their relatives this year. I know I have been guilty of buying umpteen plastic trinkets that are no doubt now rotting away in pieces on a rubbish tip somewhere halfway across the Atlantic.

However, this year I’m determined to buy something worthwhile that might last beyond January.

And one of the best ways to do that is visit an independent retailer.

They are much more likely to have products that will last longer, mean more to their recipient and, by supporting local businesses, you are helping to inject more cash into the town’s economy.

So when you hit the shops this year, make sure you take in some locally owned and run shops and help spread the Christmas joy further where we live.

Kevin Hardacre

address supplied