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A stage is prepared before an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol parade and rally in Castlederg, Northern Ireland, on April 22: Photo: DPA

Letters | A divided UK’s prospects look far from bright, but there is hope yet

  • Readers discuss the challenges facing the UK at present, and the importance of taking into consideration the events in recent history leading up to the Ukraine war
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Amid concerns over Brexit in the United Kingdom, tensions have emerged between England and Scotland. The Scottish parliament, which had rejected the UK government’s Brexit trade deal, and the pro-independence Scottish National Party, which dominates the Scottish parliament, are pushing for another independence referendum. This could lead to a constitutional crisis, which is rather untimely for the UK, given the existing challenges.

Upon departing from the European Union, the UK agreed to the Northern Ireland Protocol. But its implementation proved to be a problem for the UK, which this year introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill on June 13. The bill seeks to unilaterally override parts of the protocol that require checks on goods shipped from Britain to Northern Ireland, such that goods destined for Northern Ireland only – and not for onward transport into the European Union – don’t need to go through checks and customs controls required by the EU. The EU, in response, on June 15, launched legal proceedings against the UK.

Nonetheless, the contentious bill has been sent to the House of Lords, even though senior Conservatives criticised it during a debate in the House of Commons. This has fuelled uncertainty over the progression of the bill and more generally over the UK’s future.

The Northern Ireland Protocol episode is just one example of the lack of unity in UK, as political divisions continue to arise. According to the latest YouGov survey, when asked about the likelihood of voting Conservative at the next election, respondents polled an average of just 3.35 on a scale of 0-10, where 10 meant definitely considering voting for the incumbent party. Futhermore, only 45 per cent of people polled by YouGov at the end of August were confident that the Conservative Party did the right thing in ousting former leader Boris Johnson.
With the economy facing a long recession and more industrial strikes, the new UK prime minister, Liz Truss, is also having to tackle pressing and chronic issues such as skyrocketing bills, crisis-plagued railways and a beleaguered National Health Service. The UK is surely in need of liberation from its own chains of entanglement.

Still, as Johnson said at No 10 in July, in his speech as the outgoing prime minister, “even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden”. With any luck, the UK will make it past this stage of turmoil, as it has always done.

Tan Bo Yan, Singapore

Don’t gloss over US actions in Russia’s neighbourhood

The mainstream media in the United States seems unable to report on the Ukraine war from a balanced perspective.

First, there is no doubt that the US has broken its promises to the then Soviet Union around 1991 that Nato would not expand towards Russia’s borders in return for it accepting the reunification of Germany. The Warsaw Pact was duly dissolved, yet Nato has added 14 members around Russia. A major gap in this encirclement effort is Ukraine.

Second, the US supported the Maidan revolution in 2014 to overthrow a duly elected pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Victoria Nuland, then US assistant secretary of state, was even heard saying on a recording that the US was pushing for a change of government despite European Union misgivings.

From 2014, the Ukrainian army has waged war on pro-Russian people in Donbas, most of whom supported Yanukovych during the 2010 Ukrainian election. Pro-Russian protesters died in a fire at Trade Unions House in Odesa on May 2, 2014, which to this day has not been fully investigated by the Ukrainian authorities.

Third, for many months before the commencement of the “special operation”, Russian President Vladimir Putin made clear his red line on Ukraine’s US-backed push to become a member of Nato – which would increase the likelihood of missiles being placed there – just as US President John F. Kennedy did when Russia proposed placing missiles in Cuba.

In this regard, we should remember that Putin sees himself facing a US which, since the Vietnam war and with allies, has managed to cause mayhem in so many countries, such as Grenada, Nicaragua, Chile, Iraq and Afghanistan, to the immense profit of its military-industrial complex, which president Dwight D. Eisenhower so presciently warned about.

The US’ primary goal since World War II has been to maintain its hegemony in a unipolar world. As it sees that world becoming multipolar, the US is becoming more dangerous. Just look at the doublespeak on Taiwan. The US acknowledges the one-China policy and the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, yet promotes Taiwan’s push for virtual independence.

The latest doublespeak about the explosions around the NordStream pipelines is “stupid and absurd” (in the words of Putin’s spokesman), insinuating that Russia probably sabotaged its own billion-dollar assets, which had stopped delivering gas to the EU a while ago.

George Forrai, Mid-Levels