Letters - 24 November 2017

From Brexit to Iran

What can we do about Brexit?

With our departure from the EU less than two years away, Janet Kreysa’s question (3 November) should be taken literally and not as merely rhetorical. Simply spending time in lamentation or celebration, depending upon one’s point of view, is time wasted. Here are some practical suggestions for maintaining Quaker testimonies in a post-Brexit future.

Britain has an admirable tradition of welcoming refugees that long predates the inception of the EU. We should build upon this, making ourselves a model of compassion to the world.

Britain has a commendable record of protecting human rights, enshrined in a legal system that has provided an example for other jurisdictions. We can lead the way in promoting and improving upon this.

Our scientific and technical resources equip us to lead in the care and improvement of the global environment.

The relaxation of protectionist tariffs will enable us to trade freely with many more economies outside the EU, some of which desperately need our business.

At the personal level, if you have a European language, improve it and use it. Avoid isolationist ‘all-inclusive’ resort holidays; when abroad, try to interact and integrate with local cultures and language groups. Support your local twinning arrangement. If you live near a university, invite foreign students to your Meetings and homes. Make them feel welcome.

Quakers – at a national, local and personal level – need to rise to the challenge of life after leaving the EU and lead the way. Be positive, loving, compassionate and cheerful. Be patterns, be examples.

Clive Ashwin


The Quakers in Britain website states: ‘We call for a ban on shale gas fracking and all forms of intensive fossil fuel extraction in the UK… Instead, we wish to see an energy system based on renewable, efficient energy that is affordable to all.’

I do not oppose fracking in the UK. I believe fracking’s negative environmental effects are not worse than those caused by other technologies that supply us with energy. Think about open-cast coal mines, or the disaster at Aberfan just over fifty years ago.

I heat my house with gas, as do many people in the UK. It is unrealistic to expect a significant switch to another energy source soon. If we do not use gas from the UK we will, instead, use imported gas, probably from a country where environmental controls may be less strict.

The global impact on the environment could be worse because there will be more methane leakage and because of the energy needed to transport the gas to the UK.

I definitely look forward to a future energy system based on renewable, efficient energy that is affordable to all, but this is still some way off. Better insulation, more efficient household and industrial devices, less air travel, cleaner ships, more solar and wind generation – we can work towards all these. Meanwhile, the UK will, however hard we wish for change, continue to use gas.

Peter Bullman

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