East Lothian Courier – 11 May 2023


I was sorry to miss the John P Mackintosh lecture, but commitments precluded it. Remembering a great man’s right and a lecture is a fitting tribute. In addition, Gavin Esler ‘s not only a very erudite journalist but a gifted writer and his thoughts I’m sure would have found favour with the late MP.

Gavin Esler and I may not agree on everything but on his lamentations and condemnation of Brexit Britain, we are at one. No amount of red, white and blue bunting or Ruritanian jamborees can disguise that Britain’s a diminished land. Both at home for its people where poverty stalks ever increasing numbers and abroad where a land that many admired’ s now derided.

Brexit that was proclaimed as the solution to all our ills has instead infected so many areas of our society. Our economy is being trashed as businesses lose access to markets and yet barriers whether tariff or bureaucracy mount. Supposed upsides have failed to materialize and instead the Tories scramble for tawdry deals with anyone prepared to engage.

The latest iteration is one with Singapore. It’s a lovely country which I visited decades ago but it’s hardly the solution to our economic woes. It’ll likely not even make up the decline in trade with Slovenia or Slovakia, let alone that with France or Germany that’s been lost. I’m also certain that Singaporeans won’t be chapping at the bit to come and work in the sectors that now are suffering from the loss of hard working folk from Eastern Europe who were enriching our society.

I was in America recently and there’s no interest in a trade deal with the UK. One may come but not anytime soon and when it does it’ll undermine our NHS, as well as threaten our farming and food. But I also recalled how my American friends suffered from the image that their country had globally. Hostility towards the Government and a disdain for what was seen as arrogance. Now I fear that the British have joined them and in more than just a long queue at the airport.