Time to remain

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EU regulations underpin many rights at work, like holiday entitlement, maternity leave, rights to take breaks and limits to how many hours we can work. The Conservatives and Ukip are on record as saying they would like to cut back EU-guaranteed workplace rights if they could. Many of these rights were introduced into the UK by the last Labour government, in the teeth of Tory opposition.

If we voted to leave the EU on 23 June, the Tory government, quite possibly led by Boris Johnson and backed by Nigel Farage, would dump rights on equal pay, working time, annual leave, for agency workers, and on maternity pay as fast as they could get away with it.

W Harris

Newington, Edinburgh

Gavin McCrone’s excellent article, Britain should fill EU leadership, 17 June, is a timely reminder to supporters of staying that they have to grapple with the so called facts produced by Leave.

The fact “surprise surprise” is that half of our exports go to Europe. But we also make huge invisible earnings.

For example British financial centres deal with most of the European mergers transactions. Inward investment was around £40 billion in 2014. How much of that might we lose? Michael Gove tells people we will immediately be better off. The truth is we may lose a lot of business even before we get near to making new free trade deals.

Andrew Vass

Corbiehill Place, Edinburgh

One hesitates to disagree with someone as eminent as Professor McCrone but I fear I found his article (Countdown 17 June) unconvincing.

The economic forecasts produced by the IFS et al regarding Brexit are no doubt thoroughly professional but, as far as I can judge, are statistical exercises.

There is a suggestion that policies put forward for post Brexit by Leave would be implemented but would the course we take not be decided by the parliaments we elect?

Moreover it should be borne in mind that there is no guarantee that the handouts we have been enjoying will continue. The 18 nations which have come into the EU since we joined include the poorest in Europe and it is possible they will seek a bigger share.

As to Britain providing leadership I wonder if we can do that as, in effect, an associate member uncommitted to ever closer union or the euro.

Where I would humbly agree with the professor is that the question before us is about more than a penny on the price of tea.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh

Winston Churchill, at the end of the Second World War, advocated a sort of United States of Europe to prevent further catastrophic conflict and so France and Germany agreed to share resources by forming the European Coal and Steel Community.

This was the start of the present European Union and, at this early stage, Britain could have had the leadership of Europe handed to it on a plate. Unfortunately, we chose to ignore this golden opportunity. Instead, we ended up years later begging to join a, by then, much more established organisation.

Despite its many imperfections, it is worth remaining a member of the present European Union so that we, together with other members, can work for its reform from inside. If we leave we will have no influence whatsoever.

If it made sense to Winston Churchill why should it not make sense to us?

Stephen James Edwards

Inveresk Village, Musselburgh

Europe needs Britain. The referendum debate has paid insufficient attention to the external impact of Brexit, so immersed are both sides in sloganeering about how well or badly off the UK itself would be in or out of the EU.

Britain is such an important country that its departure from the EU could trigger the EU’s collapse. Nigel Farage actually views the EU’s demise as a desirable outcome. His ideal is a Europe of wholly independent nation states. The problem with this scenario is that Europe has been here before, in the set-up whose frequent bloody conflicts and dictatorships far-sighted statesmen sought to banish forever after 1945 by creating a supranational polity.

It is unwise and unfair to dwell only on the EU’s shortcomings. It remains what Irish peace builder John Hume called “the best war avoidance mechanism ever invented”.

We really are better together – and that goes for the rest of the EU just as much as for the UK itself.

Stephen Nisbet

Drummond Place, Edinburgh

Time to leave

The EU will never be a superstate because it is a composite of many individual states each with their own language and culture.

We should uphold the value of national cultures and reject the move towards ever closer union which has marked the transition from the old EEC to the present EU. The EEC was designed to facilitate trade and that is what the UK voted for in the 1975 referendum. We did not vote to be part of an EU superstate.

Les Reid

Morton Street, Edinburgh

The Labour Party has belatedly joined the Trades Union movement in campaigning for a “remain” result in the forthcoming EU referendum.

By supporting “remain” Labour and the unions may well avoid the immediate economic shock that would follow Brexit, but look a little farther ahead and ask how many jobs for traditional Labour and union members will there be in years to come?

The over-paid and over-cossetted eurocrats will continue to pass more and more rules, making European industry less and less competitive, safe in the comfortable knowledge that they will never be affected. Is “remain” really in the best interests of the UK workforce?

Graham M McLeod

Muirs, Kinross

I have just received an electoral communication of stunning crassness. The sole argument this leaflet advances is, and I quote in full: “Don’t let Farage speak for you.”

If frightening Scots with a bogeyman is the best that Scotland Stronger in Europe can do, is it any wonder that so many are now turning to support the Leave campaign?

Otto Inglis

Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh

Urging us to vote Remain, Marjorie Mackenzie (Letter, 17 June) asserts Brexit would do “untold damage to the environment we share”.

Perhaps she has forgotten the various EU fishing policies which have led to the dumping of millions of tonnes of perfectly good fish. Or the common agricultural policy which subsidised the ripping up of hedgerows. Or the EU’s promotion of biodiesel fuel in vehicles long after we all knew that the subsidising of fields producing these products was leading to higher food prices for humans, hitting the world’s poorest.

Environmentalists might stop and think whether the environment could be better served by a Leave vote rather than by continuing with the inefficient EU machine.

(Cllr) Cameron Rose

City Chambers, Edinburgh

Closing the gap

If Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney are serious about closing the attainment gap between better off and poorer children they must take steps to address the reasons why it exists and continues to grow.

Reducing the gap requires a serious and holistic analysis of how we lift children and families out of poverty, improve their living conditions, access to support services and consequently their life chances.

The government needs to be serious about investing in education in the widest sense, so that children who are struggling and at risk can be given the support they need.

Save the Children warns in its recent report that poverty is damaging too many children’s education before they have even set foot in the classroom due to their poor speech and language development.

The charity’s researchers found that children who struggle with speech and language skills are often behind their peers, and one in five children growing up in poverty leaves primary school with poor literacy skills. As a former head teacher, I would advise the Scottish Government to ignore this report at their peril. Children’s educational success is more complex and important than political capital.

Mo Davidson

Eskfield Grove, Dalkeith

Secular pretence

Many readers will see the attack on the BB’s Christian ethos by secularist activist Steuart Campbell as typical of the aggressive atheist movement in Scotland.

Many of us born and bred in Scotland have reason to thank the Boys Brigade (as Sir Alex Ferguson has commented) for its excellent values, discipline, community spirit and wonderful Scottish traditions.

Gus Logan

York Road North Berwick

I was saddened to read Steuart Campbell’s dismissive critique of the Boys Brigade, and with it, Christianity.

Part of the “Object of the Boys Brigade” is “the promotion of obedience, reverence, discipline and self-respect”, all of which are desirable character traits, and many of the problems of today’s society is the absence of these traits.

I would suggest that if members of society followed the Christian ethos, there would be far fewer problems in society, and our country would be a better place because of that.

Douglas Hamilton

Lamlash, Isle of Arran

So Steuart Campbell advocates disbanding a religious organisation which will not abandon religion (Letters 17 June).

How far does he extend this view? Would he disband all religious organisations, including the church itself?

If so, how would he punish transgressors? Most atheists are at least willing to allow others to make their own choices.

Robert Bowers

Glassel Park Road, Longniddry