Johnson’s Australia-style 'deal' is half-baked - Readers' Letters

Boris Johnson repeatedly comments that without a deal the UK would move to an Australian-style arrangement with the EU.

With time running out, Boris Johnson has yet to agree a deal with the EU
With time running out, Boris Johnson has yet to agree a deal with the EU

This is a highly disingenuous statement, as while Australia does not have a free trade agreement in place with Brussels, it does have a series of around a dozen agreements on trade and other areas.

It has, for example, agreements with the EU on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and scientific co-operation. The pair also have a “mutual recognition agreement” so there is acceptance of each other’s safety certificates and product markings. Australia also negotiated an agreement on the trade of wine, a huge Australian export, in 2008.

Other arrangements are also in place to help combat crime and terrorism and to allow the exchange of classified information. The UK would enjoy none of these in the event of a no-deal.

It should also be noted also that the UK and the EU trade far more with each other, given their proximity to each other, than Europe and Australia do.

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The UK, for example, trades more than half of its goods into Europe, compared with just 11 per cent for the southern hemisphere country.

Cross-Channel trade is also a more varied range of mainly complex manufactured goods, compared with Australia’s exports which are focused on raw materials.

If there to be a new deal, the UK would wholly follow WTO rules, with all the challenges that brings. This includes tariffs being placed on many goods traded between the UK and the EU, in addition to some quota restrictions and customs checks.

Alex Orr

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Marchmont Road, Edinburgh

Brexiteers’ dream

The EU-UK trade negotiation dynamics are irresolvable. Any remaining time should focus simply on core essentials – for example, short-term fixes for medicines, post and parcels, air safety, etc.

We are about to experience the “wartime” shock of not seeing things in the shops but gradually deals will be struck that suit both sides and things will very slowly get a little better.

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But for years this off-shore archipelago in the wastes of the North Atlantic, whose impecunious citizens will soon be driving home-made “Trabants”, won’t look very European. Yet Brexiteers still believe the EC will dump its “ever closer union”; become less protectionist; more open to free trade; more like Anglo-Saxons. I wonder if they also believe in Santa Claus!

They revel in continental disunity because it supports their view that the EC is unsustainable. Since Brexit will have no economic benefit, its snake-oil salesmen crave vindication in a great unravelling they can claim to have foreseen.

But what if stability and prosperity through peaceful cooperation works? That's a future Brexiteers cannot bear to contemplate

Dr John Cameron

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Howard Place, St Andrews

Trade balance

One of many fears about a no deal Brexit is that our cars will cost several thousand pounds more to sell in Europe and jobs will be lost.

However, by the same token European cars coming here will be hit by a similar tax, losing jobs there. As the UK has at least 100 factories turning out one sort of wheeled transport or another all we have to do is use them to supply all the vehicles that we require, thereby reducing the need to both export and import and generating more jobs than we lose. And of course we can continue to buy and sell from non-EU nations just like almost every other nation.

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Getting shot of EU tyranny has several advantages! Nothing to fear but fear itself, eh?

Tim Finn

Garvald, East Lothian

Turn on the oven

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It suited Boris Johnson prior to the last election to sign an “oven-ready” deal which promised to keep to the EU's regulatory regime. Once he won his election, however, the “oven-ready” agreements over Ireland and regulatory regimes soon unravelled.

It is a sign of things to come that Boris Johnston's promises are so eagerly finessed. His bottom line is that he must keep faith with his activated base – other issues are of secondary concern.

How does years of activation by an hysterical anti-immigration Tory press affect voters? Many love the defiant rhetoric. “No prime minister can accept that we won't have choices on regulatory regimes”, he insists. Surely be couldn't have realised exactly what he was signing before the last election –was it “oven-ready” or “voters-ready”?

Now we are told we have an “oven-ready” Australian deal to look forward to. But this is a euphemistic statement as Australia has no free trade deal with the EU. Just as the Tory claim of success in creating low unemployment is also euphemistic as it includes zero hours contracts in the figures. In January, when prices go up and destitution becomes widespread we will hear more euphemisms no doubt. But we won't hear about how zero hours workers are coping with rising prices.

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Andrew Vass

Corbiehill Place, Edinburgh

Peak Uncertainty

It seems likely that, in the months and years to come, Scotland will once again hold a referendum on independence. And, as sure as night follows day, the pro-union side of the business lobby will caution of the all the related "uncertainty”, the impossibility of planning, the deterrents to investing in Scotland while that democratic process unfolds.

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So, no matter what emerges from the Prime Minister’s chaotic EU talks over the weekend it is worth bookmarking our current position. As part of the UK, we are now literally days away from the most fundamental changes in many decades to the trading arrangements with our biggest trading partner. And yet the UK Government can tell us almost nothing about what those new arrangements are likely to be.

Thanks to the Conservative government’s series of mutually exclusive "red line issues”, we have ended up at two minutes to dinner time, with an “oven-ready” deal splattered all over the kitchen floor.

This is Peak Uncertainty, and it has arisen within the UK.

C Hegarty

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Glenorchy Road, North Berwick

Dangerous history

With the all-consuming power of the SNP in Scotland we, as adults have the choice to switch off from their procrastinations as and when we see fit.

But the production of a document meant for our schools shows how devious they are to ensure that the next generation falls directly in line with party obsession, independence and the demonising of our greatest allies and neighbours, England.

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The Road to the Scottish Parliament, a historical timeline to the establishment of the parliament in 1999, is frankly a piece of unadulterated indoctrination. If it was printed in any other country, it would be rounded upon as despicable brainwashing.

Leading Scottish historian Sir Tom Devine states “The piece reads like a simplistic piece of arrant propaganda” and “this is self-evidently arrant and dangerous nonsense. I am sure, and I hope, that teachers will see through the absurdities and not convey such rotten history to their pupils”.

Manipulation of the young through education is something I thought existed in places like China, the old Eastern Bloc, the Soviet Union, not in a democratic country like Scotland.

But this is what happens when power is held for too long by one party or government. They lose sense of the real purpose of their being – to provide a stable society, to keep children safe and educated freely and to ensure the best possible circumstances for a healthy and decent upbringing.

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David Millar

West High Street, Lauder

Royalty loyalty

In defending the recent royal visit, Alan Thomson (Letters 11 December) accuses Martyn McLaughin of conflating the people of Scotland with SNP supporters. He in turn conflates supporters of independence with SNP supporters.

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He also demonstrates his lack of awareness of the nuances of the constitutional debate by assuming all Nationalists (as he prefers to calls them) are anti-Monarchy. If he delved a little deeper he would find that a fair number of independence supporters, particularly in the older age groups, favour the retention of the monarchy, though I have to admit, I'm not one of them.

And while he criticises Nicola Sturgeon's lukewarm welcome of the royal couple, he might like to recognise that when asked to approve the visit, Downing Street pointedly refused to condone it, saying precisely what Nicola Sturgeon said, that it was decision taken by the palace and for them to justify it.

Gill Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

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Nativity fictions

Jen Robertson urges us all to “hope”, a long-held slogan of evangelical Christians (“Shine the light of hope in our communities”, 11 December). Presumably hope that the Gospel story is true and that believers will enjoy eternal life if they believe that Jesus saves them.

However, everyone needs to be aware that the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke were invented to give Jesus a background commensurate with his deification by the early Church. Neither Mark's nor John's Gospel know anything of Jesus' origin and John, Jesus' intimate, was most likely to have known. The two birth accounts cannot even agree, evidence that they are not historical.

Steuart Campbell

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Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

What a Dame

I for one won't join the chorus of studied grief for the greatest apologist for the Kray Twins.

I'll save my sympathy for those these loathsome creatures bullied, extorted, terrorised and murdered – and Dame Barbara Windsor went to her grave still using every media platform proffered to make excuses for such violent career criminals.

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Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire,