Letters: Brexit negotiators cannot afford to ignore the markets on our doorstep

SIR – Politicians are trumpeting the news that there are dozens of countries queuing up to do free trade deals with Britain. 

However, even with a weaker pound, our goods are too expensive for many overseas markets. This is before one also factors in the extra cost of freight to distant parts of the globe. 

In many cases, such as the food and drink industry, there are significant cultural barriers to exporting. Black pudding and warm beer will never have a massive following in India, while exporting pork and alcohol to much of south-east Asia, the Middle East and north Africa is prohibited.

Europe is our closest market in which standards are harmonised and most of its countries are rich enough to be able to afford our products. This is why we should never close the door to open trade borders with Europe.

Paul Bendit 
Arlington, East Sussex

SIR – All the talk of the need to negotiate “a good deal in Europe” may have unintended consequences. Given that World Trade Organisation rules will sort out the tariff issue, further negotiations may force Britain to make unnecessary concessions, for instance on the integrity of our borders.

More profoundly, the question will be raised of what it is we are leaving. The EU is not only a market: it is a protectionist trade bloc. “Successful” negotiation may therefore end with Britain partially rejoining a club which reduces freedom of trade and which restricts the negotiations for genuine free trade with areas outside Europe. 

Lord Spicer (Con)
London SW1 

Scene of protest: Italy has suffered from financial stagnation, high inflation and political unrest in recent years


SIR – As an Italian businessman, I am seriously considering moving my business to the UK after Brexit.

The EU has proved to be a disaster for Italy, with youth unemployment at 45 per cent, a stifling taxation system, plummeting property values, and (according to official statistics) national unemployment at more than 12 per cent. 

Many in Italy look to Brexit with the hope that it will be the beginning of a new era, in which democracy wins out over bureaucracy and arrogance.

Viscardo Paganelli
Siena, Tuscany, Italy

SIR – If the costs of some imports are to rise, we could end up seeing restricted amounts of imported green beans, peas and other vegetables on sale. 

Perhaps this could prove to be a real opportunity for the market in British-produced vegetables. Personally, I rarely use imported vegetables unless really necessary. I like to look forward to the time of year when our crops come into season and thus become a real treat.

Mary Heath
East Hunsbury, Northamptonshire

Welsh Tory leader: We will make breakfast a success

Welsh Tory leader: We will make breakfast a success

SIR – I know that Brexit means Brexit, but could someone please enlighten me as to what Bregsit means. I find the use of this expression on radio and television increasingly irritating.

Ann O’Brien 
Leeds, West Yorkshire

‘Welcome to Britain’

A child’s drawing is left on the wall of a shack in the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, which was recently cleared by the French authorities

Getty Images/Christopher Furlong

SIR – Fleeing Nuremberg after Kristallnacht in 1938, my teenage father and his sister found shelter with other Jewish refugees in Paris.

In November 1939, anticipating the Nazi invasion of France, my aunt managed to get herself alone to Britain with the help of the Red Cross.

She was barely 16 years old. In later years she often told how when she passed through customs, a portly gentleman in the uniform of a British colonel welcomed her with a warm hug and said in flawless German: “Welcome to Britain. I hope you will be very happy here.” 

There were no dental checks or assessments of bone age. In recent days, scores of children like my aunt, fleeing persecution and conflict, have slept in the open since the demolition of the “Jungle” camp in Calais, unable to make the journey she made 77 years ago. Shame on the British and French governments for their unwillingness to replicate this act of humanity. 

Dr Anita Berlin 
London NW3

Flying the flag for aid

SIR – Following the news that the Royal Yacht Britannia may rise again, I firmly believe that Britain should have a hospital ship.

Jointly funded by the overseas aid budget and private finance and operated by the Royal Navy, a suitable cargo ship could readily be converted into a facility that could deliver high-quality NHS-style services to countries in need of them. With natural disasters becoming more frequent, the ship could also be staffed with people with the skills, experience and equipment to cope in such an event, capable of rendering timely help where needed.

As well as “flying the flag” for Britain around the world, such a facility would also provide tax payers with clear visual evidence of how overseas aid is spent.

David Rusbridger
Chichester, West Sussex

Before the mast

Sea legs: Sir Ben Ainslie gives a sailing lesson to young people in Portsmouth, 2015

Bryn Lennon /Getty Images

SIR – One of the reasons for our lack of amateur sailors (report, October 29) is the abandonment of school sailing centres by education authorities during the Nineties and Noughties. 

In 40 years of teaching I never saw a more effective method than sailing lessons when it came to converting disaffected teens into capable adults. This, of course, did not come cheap.

R V Graves
Blackburn, Lancashire

SIR – As an amateur British, European and world sailing champion, I love the sport. The current problem isn’t one of participation, but of organisation. The Royal Yachting Association now processes children through a set pathway in a drive to find the next Ben Ainslie and secure Lottery funding.

The process has destroyed club sailing. Parents spend fortunes and drive thousands of miles. Hundreds of hours are needed on the water and in the gym. It is no longer fun, and no surprise that most young sailors are lost by the age of 18. Britain may get medals, but the approach has killed lifelong passion for sailing.

Chris McLaughlin 
London SW19

Patients’ right to decide their own treatment

SIR – Jane Merrick’s interpretation of the Royal College of Surgeons’ guidance on gaining a patient’s consent misses the point.

A Supreme Court judgment given last year changed the law on consent. We at the Royal College of Surgeons are obliged to comply with this change. While we hope that following the new guidance will reduce the likelihood of a patient, surgeon and NHS hospital being involved in a lengthy, distressing and expensive litigation case, we also hope it will improve a patient’s experience.

Patients have a fundamental legal and ethical right to decide what happens to their bodies. They should be told, by a suitably qualified surgeon or doctor, about all the reasonable treatment options available to them and the risks involved, before they consent to any procedure.

Our guidance will help the medical profession to take patients through the best options for them and to decide which treatment, if any, they would prefer to have.

Leslie Hamilton
Council member and lead on consent guidance, Royal College of Surgeons
London WC2

SIR – When faced with making an important decision in a consultant’s office, the choice is not always easy. 

My husband was diagnosed with a medium aggressive case of prostate cancer. The choice was between “watchful waiting” or radiotherapy. After a moment I asked the consultant what he would do if it was his father who had the cancer. The consultant said he would go for the radiotherapy, which my husband had. 

He was in remission for four years until his death from another cause.

Diane Barnett
London SW19

SIR – A diagnosis of cancer came to me as a complete shock in February last year. The registrar at the Macmillan Centre told me that I was to be under the care of the second-best myeloma professor in the world. It never occurred to me to question her. Each of my chemotherapy sessions was slightly different. I felt as if I were a Grand Prix car stopping in the pits for perfect tuning.

If I had stopped to debate the precise details of what the mechanics were doing, I would not have completed that race.

Julian Hartnoll 
London SW1

Terminal problems

SIR – There has been much mention of the newly sanctioned third runway at Heathrow (Letters, October 29), but I have yet to see any comment on the construction of the sixth terminal that will inevitably be required in order to facilitate the extra flights.

Simon Baumgartner
Hampton, Middlesex

SIR – What happens when the M25 under the third Heathrow runway needs widening again, so as to cope with the extra traffic generated?

Andrew Yeomans
Tring, Hertfordshire

Autumn revels in its true colours at every turn

Natural engineering: a road in Dorset is surrounded by a tunnel of autumnal trees 


SIR – It is the time of year to celebrate the engineers who planned and planted our roadside trees.

What a splendid display of colour we have this autumn, made so wonderful by the choice and mix of trees and bushes. 

Ian Creek 
Fareham, Hampshire

Kick the sugar habit

SIR – I am about to sponsor my grandchildren for No Sugar November for the second year. This involves giving up sugar, sweets, ice cream, cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks for the 30 days of November. 

They are allowed three “failure” days for birthday parties or other such events, but have the opportunity to make these up at the beginning of December. In return, I pay them £1 per sugar free day: 50p for themselves and 50p to a charity of their choice. If they manage without “failure” days they get a £5 bonus for themselves. 

They all managed it last year, but only one earned the bonus. This year they are all doing it again, and so are their mothers (unsponsored).

Sue Randle 
Kidderminster, Worcestershire

Survival of the cutest

SIR – Peter Comben (Letters, October 27) asks why it is that he sympathises with the seal being pursued by killer whales on wildlife documentaries, but hopes that the cheetah catches the impala. 

Anyone who has listened to the expert commentary on a wildlife documentary will know that in the ocean the predators organise themselves into squads, working as a team of ruthless killers. Land mammals are invariably the desperate mothers of a litter of adorable mini predators on the brink of starvation.

It is just a question of which group has the best PR agents.

Annie Pierce
Bromborough, Cheshire


SIR – Seen recently in a restaurant in Paphos, Cyprus – a sign on a wall which said: “We have no Wi-Fi. Talk to each other.”

Paul Chadwick

No funny business

Creepy clown wanders around London

Creepy clown wanders around London

SIR – If anyone is threatened by a gang of clowns this evening, my advice is to go for the juggler.

Frank Wilkinson 
Bolton, Lancashire

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