Readers' Letters: What a tangled web Boris Johnson weaves

Murdo Fraser’s call for Boris Johnson to explain the “work meeting” underway in Number 10’s garden produced an answer (Perspective, 20 December). Colleagues gathering for improvised drinks in a garden were not “at a party”, but “people at work, talking about work”.

Is the Prime Minister being straight with British voters, wonder readers (Picture: Phil Noble/PA)
Is the Prime Minister being straight with British voters, wonder readers (Picture: Phil Noble/PA)

For Mr Johnson this was not the same as millions leaving desks, shops, hospitals or factories and illicitly gathering in beer gardens or on terraces, “talking about work” with their mates. There are indeed two crucial differences. First, the office, retail, NHS and factory workers didn’t do the gathering, talking and drinking because it wasn’t allowed. Second, only Boris Johnson thinks that being “at work, talking about work” and “actually working” are the same thing. Every employee knows full well what opportunistic skiving looks like. The Prime Minister needs the grace to admit it.

Rather than via a press conference or in Parliament and open to scrutiny, however, the PM presented his preposterous explanation ashen-faced, squeezed into a corner of Downing Street’s library, backed against a wall of books imprisoned behind brass grilles. A perfect visual metaphor for Walter Scott’s trap: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

As Lord Frost’s fantasy of global Brexit Britain also unravelled, his resignation letter mentioned “freedom and independence as a country” and “the process of building a new relationship with the EU”: 55 per cent of the people of Scotland would say “yes, we’ll take that”. Lord Frost also praised the lightly regulated, low-tax, entrepreneurial economy, adding “300 years of history show that countries which take that route grow and prosper”. Not only the majority in Scotland but 100 per cent of the population north of Birmingham know that the failure to achieve 300 years of equal growth and prosperity across the UK now needs a “Department for Levelling Up”, whose first spectacular failure was levelling up public transport for the north.

Armando Ianucci, creator of satirical sitcom The Thick of It, admitted that the cast improvised outlandish “policies” for the show, jokes that, astonishingly, became law (the “bedroom tax” being one). Now we’ve seen policy emerging from “people talking about work” over a few drinks it’s clear that the UK government is beyond satire. If only Scotland had a way out.

(Dr) Geraldine Prince, North Berwick, East Lothian

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Twain wreck

As the deceit and lies of this Tory government goes into overdrive, any credibility it had is gone. The twin disasters of Brexit and Covid have created a culture of corruption which is now endemic, spearheaded by the fading star of Boris Johnson. The choice facing Scotland is either independence or stagnation within a struggling British state. Only as an independent nation can we work towards a fairer, greener and more prosperous country. The desire to bring about such change must come from the passion and soul of the Scottish people.

However, in the warmth and spirit of Christmas I rejoice in the words of US author and poet Richelle E Goodrich: “Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone's day”. In such terms I hope Boris may rejoice in the words of Mark Twain: "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything”!

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Scotland’s money

Gerald Edwards says the UK government will harden its attitude towards support for Scotland because of SNP “moaning” (Letters, 21 December). It's an inconvenient truth ignored by Mr Edwards and Martin Redfern (Letters, same day) that what was pointed out by the SNP was the fact that the first tranche of £220 million of “additional” money was actually an advance on previously projected finance and not extra money, as misrepresented by the Treasury.

But what are we to draw from Mr Edwards’s contention? That we're in a partnership of equal nations with shared challenges and aspirations and a common goal? Or that we in Scotland are being governed by a UK administration motivated by chauvinism and vindictive spite? Let's hope he's wrong.

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Expect blackouts

Communities in Scotland in off-grid locations can apply for a share of a £3 million fund to develop greener and cheaper electricity (your report, 20 December). Net Zero and Scottish Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said “this presents a huge opportunity to make our energy supply not just greener, but also cheaper and more secure”. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy used similar wording when talking of smart meters "that will make our energy system cheaper, cleaner and more efficient". Obviously they go to the same brainwashing seminars. Greener? For the last year renewables, mostly wind turbines, have supplied only 21 per cent of our electricity, fossil fuels 45 per cent. Cheaper? Wind turbine owners in Scotland have received £1 billion since 2010 to shut off their turbines. This £1 billion escalated UK bills. Secure? This week wind supplied less than six per cent of our electricity and gas over 63 per cent.

Posturing politicians and the green zealots want to ditch gas – some even want to get rid of nuclear, which provides 15 per cent. With this type of leadership, blackouts are imminent.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Night and day

The call for 24-hour opening of vaccination centres must be seen as nothing more than a politically motivated response to our current situation, as it is certainly not one based upon sound scientific principles (“Call for round the clock booster appointments,” 20 December). Biological systems are known to vary significantly over a 24-hour cycle. There is already evidence that such diurnal variations can impair the functioning of the human immune system and, as a consequence, the body's response to vaccination may well be less effective at certain times of day. Indeed, a study in the East Midlands, published in 2016, showed that one month after a dose of influenza vaccine, the antibody response to the vaccine was better if the recipient was vaccinated in the morning rather than in the afternoon. While it may well be that Covid vaccination is just as effective if given during the night rather than in the daytime, there is currently no scientific evidence to confirm this. Covid vaccines are a scarce resource, especially outwith these shores – let's not risk using them wastefully solely for political expediency.

(Dr) Michael J Laggan, Newton of Balcanquhal, Perthshire

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