John Harris’s excellent article (The gap between reckless Brexit promises and reality will soon be too big to ignore, 18 October) was extremely sobering. “What happens,” he asks, “when some watershed is reached, and the fact that people were conned becomes inescapable?”, linking the way public trust was undermined by the Iraq war and by Brexit. Both before war was declared on Iraq, and also before Brexit was enacted, some 1 million people marched through the streets of London in opposition. These people were engaged, informed, enlightened folk from across the country, committed enough to march for policies that to them represented the right way forward, for Britain and the world. The governments of the day ignored them.
The consequences of the Iraq war and Brexit are now all too clear. We should not have made war; we should not have left Europe. As John Harris says: “People in the political mainstream – by which I chiefly mean Labour MPs – need to start loudly talking about Brexit … and what life outside Europe is doing to us.” Absolutely. I feel sure there are millions of voters desperate for Keir Starmer, the shadow cabinet and all Labour MPs, at every opportunity, to do exactly that.
Solihull, West Midlands
• John Harris lets the Westminster opposition parties off the hook. Labour failed to offer a clear message in the referendum campaign and must take some responsibility for the result. Talking about the effects of Brexit at the moment highlights yet another internal division. And the Liberal Democrats seem reluctant to tell voters they were conned. Surely, it is no great problem to say loud and clear that the Tories misled the country over leaving the EU, and thus we are on course for incremental disaster.
• Polly Toynbee (The Tories are sacrificing Northern Irish businesses on the altar of Brexit purity, 18 October) makes a very welcome plea: “It’s time for Labour to shake off old remoaner phobias and turn its full firepower on every aspect of Johnson’s Brexit disaster.” May I suggest that the imminent spending review and autumn budget would present the ideal opportunity to do so. Clearly, the damage being done by Brexit to tax revenues is a very significant factor in spending and budget considerations.
Whereas many of the serious Brexit problems, such as HGV driver and social care staff shortages, are self-evident, the insidious aspect of Brexit is the reduction to GDP and the corresponding loss of tax revenue, unfortunately clouded by the economic impact of Covid. The losses to date of financial services alone would suggest the Office of Budget Responsibility’s 2020 forecast of a Brexit reduction to GDP of 5% over 15 years is probably of the right order. In the light of actual Brexit experience to date, Labour should demand that the OBR forecast be updated.
Great Linford, Milton Keynes
• On a recent trip to France, my newfound freedom meant that I was no longer able to slip from one country to another, but that I was treated as a foreigner on entering France, my passport being stamped and my visit limited. I crept in ashamed to be British, leaving behind a country with empty supermarket shelves, no fuel at the pumps and high Covid levels with shambolic pandemic advice.
Gilesgate, County Durham
• Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.