Moves for a ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit are frankly anti-democratic and must be rejected.

Dear Sir,

Moves for a ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit are frankly anti-democratic and must be rejected.

The people voted in the 2014 European elections, the 2015 General Election, the 2016 referendum, and the 2017 General Election.

We don’t need a fifth vote, people don’t want one, and actually there isn’t time for one.

We’re five months from Brexit and Electoral Commission rules require a six-month campaign period for any referendum.

And the EU won’t agree to extend Article 50 because it would mess up the European Elections across the whole EU next year.

The whole idea of another referendum is illogical, destabilising and doomed to failure and I’m delighted that a counter-petition has been launched on the official parliamentary petitions website.

That petition, launched by Ronald Mitchell, recognises political reality and I would urge all those who believe in democracy to sign it.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott MEP

It isn’t hard to understand why support for None of the Above is surging.

Dear Editor,

Yet another political conference season draws to a close. Labour floated controversial, borderline-communist policies to seize chunks of businesses and one speaker received a standing ovation for mooting taking us back to the 1920s with a general strike.

A vacuous Tory conference tinkered around the edges with platitudes, a few vague policy proposals.

Conferences shouldn’t just be an excuse for parties to talk to their own most supportive members and for MPs to pat each other on the back; they’re a chance to showcase a vision for the future to the wider public. And how did the public react? Well, a recent poll has revealed that 34% of people now think that Theresa May would make the best Prime Minister, whilst 23% preferred Jeremy Corbyn. None of the Above was in the lead with 43%.

It’s a perfect representation of the state of British politics in 2018. Theresa May leads an incompetent, divided government, unpopular even amongst her own Cabinet – never mind the public. And whilst Corbyn’s unique blend of Marxism and failure to stamp out antisemitism may appeal to the extreme left, it has failed to strike a chord with the public and Labour trail even this inept government in most polls.

Faced with issues from Brexit to the NHS, housing, infrastructure, education and policing – is this really the best the two main political parties can offer? It isn’t hard to understand why support for None of the Above is surging.

Regards

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Theresa May’s moves to strengthen economic links with Africa ahead of Brexit make sense

Dear Sir.

Theresa May’s moves to strengthen economic links with Africa ahead of Brexit make sense. Indeed, free and fair trade is one of the best ways to lift developing nations out of poverty. However, handing over an extra £4 billion of funding to the continent makes less sense.

If our Overseas Aid budget were ring fenced to fight floods, famines, natural disasters, and to provide clean drinking water supplies, it would enjoy broader public support.

Instead, we see example after example of money being poorly spent in pursuit of an arbitrary target of 0.7% of GDP (roughly 2% of our total tax take) in foreign aid. Meanwhile, lack of public funding in the UK (and other mismanagement) leads to a lack of medical practitioners and emergency service personnel; food banks in the UK are on the increase.

We are a generous country by nature, but that generosity must provide value for money and meet a common-sense definition of what foreign aid should be for. It should not be channeled through the European Union; the EU’s Court of Auditors does not fully monitor money once it reaches a third country’s bank account. It provides aid to oppressive regimes; contrast Iran’s appalling treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with the European Commission’s recent announcement of €50 million of aid for the Iranian regime, for example.

The appropriate formula post-Brexit is clear: cut the foreign aid budget down to size, whilst seeking to aid development through trade – getting money circulating in some of the world’s poorest countries and increasing their purchasing power.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

You only have to look at the current situation on Saddleworth Moor to realise what an important role our Army provides in times of crisis

Dear Editor,

Tomorrow (Sat) sees the annual Armed Forces Day and it is right that their essential work is highlighted, particularly when they are under attack themselves financially.

Events will be going on in various locations reminding us of their role in safeguarding our national security – and it is a role that grows ever more complex with potential cyber, biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear attacks.

But meanwhile a battle is raging about the defence budget with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson wanting an extra £20b over the next decade but civil servants wanting personnel cuts and general uncertainty about just what sort of armed forces we should have for the future.

It is obviously impossible to know what the future holds but we must not leave ourselves vulnerable to our enemies and we must be able to defend our country. You can only pare back our armed forces so far without causing operational difficulties and it is not just at times of warfare that our troops are needed.

You only have to look at the current situation on Saddleworth Moor to realise what an important role our Army provides in times of crisis.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott,

As a former teacher I support suggestions by the Culture Secretary that mobile phones should be banned in classrooms.

Dear Editor,

As a former teacher I support suggestions by the Culture Secretary that mobile phones should be banned in classrooms.

Some head teachers have wisely already introduced such a ban, and there’s substantial evidence that others should follow that lead in the interests of their pupils.

A 2015 study by the London School of Economics stated that ‘where schools banned smartphones from the premises, or required them to be handed in at the start of the day, pupils’ chances of getting five good GCSEs increased by an average of two per cent.’

As cyber-bullying has risen, contributing to some children being anxious about going to school and even suicides, and as the range of uses of smartphones has increased (and therefore the potential for disruption of the learning environment), this issue has become more pressing in recent years.

Speaking as an ex-teacher, I always found one of the best ways to hold the attention of a class was to be prepared to be spontaneous: to use humour, to relate to students in a variety of ways. When a teacher is concerned that parts of a lesson might be filmed without their knowledge, edited and placed online to ridicule them, they’re likely to teach in a much more sedate style. This benefits nobody, least of all the students.

Nevertheless, it is not a matter for the government to wade in with both feet; it should be a decision for schools to make, with the backing of parents. It should not surprise readers to learn that I don’t believe government intervention should be the default response to every situation.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott,

The European Union seems to take umbrage whenever anyone dares to suggest that the UK shouldn’t simply accept the EU’s opening negotiating position on every issue

Dear Editor,

The European Union seems to take umbrage whenever anyone dares to suggest that the UK shouldn’t simply accept the EU’s opening negotiating position on every issue.   Michel Barnier’s latest complaint concerns defence and security.

Our Armed Forces are a key cornerstone of NATO’s defence of Europe and UK policing, security and intelligence (on a bilateral basis with every nation in Europe and through additional platforms such as the Five Eyes alliance) play a key role in policing, security and counter-terrorism operations.  None of this will change after we leave the EU, but Mr Barnier is said to be furious that the UK expects “better treatment” than some EU member states – many of whom contribute significantly less to European defence and security than we do.

Considering what the UK contributes, perhaps a better question would be ‘why shouldn’t the EU value the UK’s contribution to European defence and security’? Negotiation is about give and take; sometimes it seems the European Union expects all ‘give’ from the United Kingdom and all ‘take’ for them.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP