SIR – It has always been clear that the Withdrawal Agreement, with its special treatment of Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic, was dependent on a post-Brexit deal. If there is no deal, there can be no Withdrawal Agreement, and future cross-border trade will be governed by World Trade Organisation rules.

Yet the European Union insists that if there is no deal the special treatment of Northern Ireland and the border remain in place, meaning that the province would effectively stay in the EU and be subject to all its rules, thereby reducing it to a colony. This, of course, is totally unacceptable.

Well done to the Prime Minister for calling the EU’s bluff.

Paul Strong
Claxby, Lincolnshire

 

Lords in lockdown

SIR – I am conscious of the concerning recent rise in Covid-19 infections. However, to get to the House of Lords I take a bus with a maximum capacity of 30; in the same floor area in the House, we can have only eight people.

Since the easing of lockdown began, the number of people allowed at weddings and funerals has changed from six to 30.

The guidelines on open-air meetings and dining have changed markedly, but not on the Terrace or eating and refreshment areas of the Palace of Westminster.

Museums and galleries were closed. They are now (generally) open, on some form of bookings basis.

It seems the House of Lords is still in the first stage of lockdown 1.0, while the Government is encouraging a return to work.

Lord Hayward (Con)
London SW1

 

SIR – Healthy computer working requires the correct positioning of the screen and keyboard to protect eyesight and prevent repetitive strain. Seating must also be correct, to ensure good body posture and avoid back and shoulder strain.

How does working on the end of a bed in a small flat comply, and is it an employer’s duty to make sure that work is undertaken in a safe and healthy environment?

Michael J Meadowcroft
Durham

 

SIR – Had the Beatles worked from home and collaborated solely via Zoom, may I suggest that we would never have heard of the Beatles?

Tony Smith
Solihull

 

Real counties

SIR – The problem with allowing communities to bring back historic county names (report, September 7) is that a good deal of explanation is required to clarify the current mess and show why a reversion is necessary.

Are citizens of Goole, which is in the West Riding of Yorkshire but run by East Riding council and policed by Humberside, aware of where they are?

Similar questions could be asked of people in Bournemouth (Hampshire or Dorset), Didcot (Berkshire or Oxfordshire), Peterborough (Northamptonshire or Cambridgeshire), and all of “Greater” London (which includes parts of five counties).

The Government must bring back the real counties, and explain why, since 1974, it has made statements saying that the counties still exist, while doing all it can to destroy them, against the wishes of their communities.

Gerard Dugdill
Manager, British Counties Campaign
Enfield, Middlesex

 

£502,586 broadband

SIR – I read with interest about Jim Webster (report, September 5), the farmer in my county who was told he must pay £100,000 for broadband.

He was informed by BT that he was “three kilometres from our nearest usable network”, but BT gave no explanation as to why cabling only 10 minutes’ walk away from his property could not be used.

I live in a hamlet that is a mile and a half from a village where fibre broadband is wired directly to homes. This was installed for my near neighbours at no capital cost whatsoever. I am also only four miles from a substantial market town. Under the Government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO), I applied to have a connection made under my legal right to have affordable, decent broadband.

My personal quote under USO was for £502,586.40. This is nearly five times Mr Webster’s quote, despite the fact that the distance to my town is only about double. A farmer half a mile from me was quoted about £100,000. These figures are wholly inconsistent and ridiculous. They seem designed to put people off. Is this the intention?

I see that in certain circumstances grants of £1,500 are available. This covers the installation cost of less than 27 yards of fibre cable. There is nothing universal about this scheme when one is quoted half a million pounds.

David Roberts
Cockermouth, Cumbria

 

Kudos for keepers

SIR – I was glad to read of the successful rearing of 60 hen harrier chicks in England this year (report, September 4). Most of these successes were on grouse moors.

Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all were credited with achieving these numbers. No mention of gamekeepers!

Robert Hastie
Glasgow, Lanarkshire

 

No better man

SIR – There has been another surrender to woke activists, this time by the governors of the Dragon School, my former prep school in Oxford. 

Eighty years ago, one of the boarding houses was named Gunga Din to honour the dignity of the selfless Indian in Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem. The governors have now cravenly decided the word Gunga is derogatory and racist, so have renamed it Dragon House.

Hew Stevenson
London N1

 

Stuck with a name beloved of advertisers

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