SIR – The Internal Market Bill does not in itself breach international law. Rather it allows the Secretary of State to make regulations that could cause Britain to take acts contrary to the Withdrawal Agreement and protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
It might be argued that the EU has breached Article 5 – to assist Britain “in full mutual respect and good faith”. This raises the question of whether it can be relied upon in the Joint Committee (established to allow both parties to seek to resolve disputes over implementing the Agreement) or will use it in an obstructive manner.
The protocol recognises “that cooperation between Northern Ireland and Ireland is a central part of the 1998 [Good Friday] Agreement”. It notes that Northern Ireland is part of the UK customs territory and also notes the importance of maintaining Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s internal market.
Article 1 of the protocol states that it applies without prejudice to the 1998 Agreement with regard to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, and states that it respects the territorial integrity of the UK.
If the EU fails to uphold these principles, unilateral action by the Government to ensure that they are upheld may be not only justified but also necessary. The lawfulness of any regulations could only be judged at the time at which they were implemented.
The Bill permits any regulations to take immediate effect, but even so they must be approved by both Houses of Parliament within 40 days, or they lapse [Clause 52 (2) (b) and (3)].
If and when regulations that countermand the Agreement are made, Parliament can consider them and, if so minded, strike them down. It is no doubt an awareness of this that causes the Justice Secretary, for example, to support the Bill.
Ripon, North Yorkshire
Rooty for short
SIR – The tendency to reduce given names to one syllable (Letters, September 14) doesn’t affect cricket teams. England players include Rooty, Broady, Jimmy (Anderson), and many others who also acquire a “y”.
SIR – Chris Pratt (Letters, September 12) thinks that living with his name has not been the easiest experience.
Jewish service ban
SIR – For most of my life, at about this time of year, I have had awkward conversations with non-Jewish colleagues, to explain that I will be absent for the two days of the Jewish new year festival.
Rosh Hashanah is a deeply solemn and introspective event consisting of lengthy synagogue services punctuated by formal family meals, in which alcohol plays almost no part, but I have always been met with knowing winks, comments like “Two days to celebrate new year, eh?” and hand gestures to indicate drinking.
Most Jews go through this, but we shrug and draw comfort from the fact that our employers nowadays allow us the time off. Yet suddenly I am forced to wonder if, deep down in the minds of those now making decisions as to how we must all live our lives, there is a belief that a two-day religious festival must in fact be nothing more than a barely concealed rave.
How else to explain the decision, under the “rule of six” edict, to ban all outdoor prayer gatherings for this year’s festival? Many Jewish communities and groups of private householders have spent weeks planning Rosh Hashanah services in innovative, Covid-secure ways. In many cases, these services were to be held in private gardens, with each family group properly separated, to supplement synagogue services where social-distancing rules meant that large numbers couldn’t gather.
In addition, many synagogues were planning outdoor sessions so that congregants unable to attend services could hear the traditional blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) next Sunday.
Here in Barnet, the local authority has circulated a letter making clear that all such gatherings are illegal and will attract the full force of the law. The tone is both hectoring and patronising. As the cancellations are happening barely a week before the event, most of the people who were planning to attend now have nowhere to go, as the synagogues and their overflow services are fully booked.
I guess, in the grand scheme of Covid deprivations, the cancellation of a few services for Orthodox Jews is a minor detail, and we should just shut up. That would be reasonable if there were the slightest justification for the Government’s imposition of a new form of lockdown.
However, ministers have given no rational explanation, leaving a sour sense that we are now subject to arbitrary, undemocratic government. Where will this all end?
SIR – My wife has invited five lady friends over for lunch on Thursday.
Do I have to stand in the road, or will it be OK if I just self-isolate in my study?
Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire
SIR – Regarding Rev Alan Wright’s letter (September 14) about the Last Night of the Proms, I am sure that in the original version of Rule, Britannia! in Thomas Arne’s opera Alfred the words are “never will be slaves”.
I refer readers to the recording issued by the BBC in 1997.
Fr David Lawrence-March
Lake, Isle of Wight
SIR – Last Sunday’s Songs of Praise once again left out the verse referring to “sinful man” in Angel Voices Ever Singing.
While they did not, luckily, use the awful substitute, they also left out the verse referring to “craftsman’s art”. This is woke vandalism.