Readers' letters: Brexit birthday celebrations muted

"There has indeed been a Brexit dividend, but this unfortunately does not relate to the UK, where Brexit has proven to be an economic disaster.”

Monday, 28th June 2021, 7:00 am
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Brexit birthday celebrations muted

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, it was fantastic to celebrate yet another stunning Brexit dividend, with the collapse in British exports to the Republic of Ireland handing the Irish a remarkable trade surplus with the UK.

The Irish government says new trading red tape explains a €2 billion plunge in the value of goods sales – 47.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the start of 2020.

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The figures, published by Dublin, suggest companies in the Republic have switched to buying products directly from EU countries, rather than from across the Irish Sea.

As proof, figures point to Irish goods exports to Great Britain dipping by only 2.6 per cent over the same period. Supporting this, ferry routes have been expanded to bypass British ports mired in the extra paperwork brought by Boris Johnson’s trade agreement.

The Republic is now running a surplus with Britain despite having a population of under five million people – while the UK is still the second largest economy in Europe.

This follows similarly gloomy statistics for trade with the EU, which showed a 25 per cent fall up to April, covering the first four months of the new era. It masked calamitous falls in food and drink exports – down by £2bn, or by 47 per cent compared with the same period in 2020.

There has indeed been a Brexit dividend, but this unfortunately does not relate to the UK, where Brexit has proven to be an economic disaster.

Alex Orr, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh.

We need to protect our green belts

Pentland Hills Labour Party has major general concerns about the CALA application to build in Currievale, centring on traffic numbers, pollution, moving Currie High School and building in the green belt.

Green belt areas around Juniper Green, Currie, Balerno and Ratho are being targeted as a result of moves from the Scottish government to allocate more land for housing development.

To be sustainable, developments need access to be good public transport, with work and jobs nearby and public indoor/outdoor spaces for leisure and entertainment. Planning must also take account of air quality and pollution, so no more ribbon development to the city outskirts, and a big no to building on good agricultural land. We need it for food.

Future growth should mainly be in brownfield town sites, to achieve a more compact city.

We are all agreed that we need to build new houses. However, we also need to work together to protect green spaces. We need a well-thought out planning strategy, which gives long term, outcomes that are good for people, and good for the environment.

Local Labour Councillor Ricky Henderson said “Green Belt policy is there for a reason, and it has served the City and local communities well for several decades. We accept there is a need for more housing, particularly affordable housing, but there are numerous brown field sites that should be developed for the purpose”.

Anne Wimberley, Belmont Road, Edinburgh.

Keep practising

The OECD reviewers of Scotland’s education deplore ‘rote learning’. Perhaps they can explain how a pianist gains proficiency without learning and practising scales and chords. Or how a chemistry student progresses without learning the symbols of chemical formulae. Or how a historian interprets the past without learning and memorising dates and events.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.