Mr Tusk’s position should be respected – his message was aimed at those nations, like France, where there is simmering scepticism towards Europe’s elite and it falls to him to ensure that other countries do not follow Britain’s defiant example. That said, it’s in the best interests of this country, and the EU, to be conciliatory.
This was borne out by the tone of PM’s statement to Parliament – and her historic letter to Mr Tusk when she said, respectfully, that Britain would not insult the EU by asking to remain part of the single market because there can be no “cherry picking” of access and a humble acceptance that “there will be consequences” for the UK. The significance of this cannot be under-estimated, given its repercussions for trade.
It was also a sober speech – a desire to minimise disruption, safeguard the rights of EU nationals living here and a need for special arrangements in Northern Ireland. It was also a statement of intent on behalf of the entire United Kingdom – including Scotland – that proposed the passing of repatriated powers to the devolved nations and, presumably, the English regions. For once, there was also specific mention – and recognition – of countryside communities.
To Mrs May’s credit, her measured delivery spoke for the country’s quiet majority who simply want her to get on with the job without the rancour being articulated by the most vociferous federalists and hardlined Eurosceptics alike. After all, she, as Home Secretary, was a reluctant Remain campaigner and it falls to her to pick up the pieces after her predecessor, David Cameron, so misread the mood of the nation.
That said, her approach – contrary to perception – is respected by Brussels which appears to admire, albeit grudgingly, the Tory leader’s clarity of purpose and acknowledgement of common ties between Britain and the EU that will ensure.
Her letter to Mr Tusk concluded with this assertion: “The task before us is momentous, but it should not be beyond us.” It is a sentiment that applies as much to Brussels as it does to HM Government.
THE poignancy was palpable as thousands linked hands on Westminster Bridge exactly one week after such a violent terrorist attack. Standing shoulder to shoulder with police officers mourning their fallen colleague Keith Palmer whose protective clothing offered insufficient protection from his knife-wielding murderer, wellwishers of all faiths showed that London – and Britain – will never succumb to terrorists, like the radicalised Khalid Masood, and other extremists who seek, misguidedly, to divide this great country.
It was fitting that those present included the emergency services, and staff from the nearby St Thomas’s Hospital, who were among the first to assist the stricken. Last week’s horror saw the worst of mankind followed by the best of humanity – whether it be the public’s immediate response to the tragedy or countless small gestures which signify a wider appreciation of the risks faced by the police. Such vigils will only strengthen this country’s resolve.
PUBLIC authorities such as the police telling the truth in legal proceedings, no matter how it makes their organisation appear, should be a matter of course.
However, the need for such an concept to be set down in law is sadly having to be pursued in the wake of the ongoing fallout from the Hillsborough disaster, which occurred nearly 28 years ago.
If passed, the Public Authority (Accountability) Bill would require employees of public bodies, such as police forces, to act with ‘transparency, candour and frankness’ during legal proceedings, with those who breach the law potentially facing jail.
It follows last year’s second inquest into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which found the 96 Liverpool supporters were unlawfully killed. The introduction of such a law, as the one proposed, would bring a mixture of regret and reassurance – regret that such a law would be required and reassurance that such institutions will be truly accountable in the future.
Open for business
THIS county’s world-renowned bashfulness is at odds with a quiet reserve when it comes to Yorkshire’s greatest success story of all – the diversity of its business base from major cities to remote coastal communities. A region that powered the Industrial Revolution, it is at the vanguard of a hi-tech and digital revolution that is creating the next generation of cutting edge jobs.
This ingenuity and innovation continues to be showcased by The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards – last year’s winners ranged from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, which is doing so much to help former mining areas embrace new technologies, to JCT600 founder Jack Tordoff. As the UK prepares for Brexit, it’s important to send out the message that Yorkshire is open for business – the launch of this year’s awards is a timely reminder to this county’s entrepreneurs that they have a great story which needs to be told.