John Rentoul should be slightly less hasty in nailing his colours to the mast about the slow processes of the EU in delivering this new vaccine (Has Brexit really helped the UK approve the vaccine quicker?, 3 December).
To quote Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, regulators there follow a “gold standard”, but the UK does not “do it as carefully. If you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated.”
Jens Spahn, German health minister, has said that the UK used an emergency process to authorise a coronavirus vaccine and that politicians in Germany had decided against that strategy so that public confidence in the safety of the vaccine could be boosted.
This might turn out to be the race of the tortoise and the hare, in which case the “vaccine nationalism” (to quote Sir Jeremy Farrar of the Wellcome Trust) demonstrated by Matt Hancock, Alok Sharma and Gavin Williamson, might be entirely misplaced.
In view of the unseemly haste of the British acceptance of the vaccine (First doses of vaccine to arrive ‘in hours not days’, says top medic, 3 December), in time for Wednesday’s PMQs, I strongly suggest the first to receive the vaccine should be the entire Cabinet, starting with Johnson and Hancock. Don’t use the elderly as guinea pigs.
Carry On Brussels
“We did nothing wrong,” says Brussels sex party organiser (2 December). This did give me the biggest laugh for quite some time.
To explain, I shall quote the organiser himself, David Manzheley: “There were two nurses there, and they didn’t think it was dangerous either.” There was, most likely, also someone present dressed as a vicar; someone dressed as a judge; and maybe even an individual dressed as a fire-fighter.
However, I would strongly suggest to Mr Manzheley that it is doubtful they were respectively present to offer spiritual guidance; or point out case law; or busy themselves checking the fire exits.
Brexit talks need a referee
Your editorial (Failure to agree an EU trade deal would be an unforgivable mistake, 2 December) ends by fearing the worst. Could not the parties at least agree on the appointment of an eminent neutral jurist or economist elsewhere, based perhaps in the US, to suggest a solution?
Their opinion would be non binding but the trick is to make it publishable on a set date in the future. This would expose one or both parties to the shame factor. They would have failed in a duty of reasonable compromise owed both to citizens and to history. Before the publication, the third party might be able to mediate.
This process might also provide cover for an agreement to stop the clock temporarily. Publication of the recommendation would be cancelled if the parties were to reach agreement in advance.
Emerging stronger from the pandemic
As we celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities during this challenging year, it’s more important than ever that society understands the lives of those who, like me, have autism or a learning disability.
The pandemic has affected our lives in so many ways, with new research showing that 93 per cent of us feel more isolated from society and 76 per cent have been made to feel like we matter less than others. Despite that, however, we’re stronger than ever – the pandemic has inspired us to get more involved in politics and decision making, so we can make sure that our experiences are listened to and understood.
I am proud of everything myself, and other winners of Dimensions’ Coronavirus Leaders’ List, have achieved during this pandemic: from campaigning to make Covid-19 guidance more accessible, to learning new skills and helping others feel less alone.
We all matter – and it’s time our voices and our stories are heard.
Becki Parker, winner of the 2020 Dimensions’ Coronavirus Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List
I keep reading statements from the UK negotiators at the Brexit talks saying that concessions to the EU will infringe on our sovereignty. But we are, and always were, a sovereign state. And because we are a sovereign state, we can enter into agreements with other sovereign states for our mutual benefit. Our membership of the EU was one such agreement, but there are many others.
We are a member of the World Trade Organisation and accept its rules but, apparently, that does not infringe our sovereignty. We signed a trade deal with Japan and, in doing so, made commitments on state subsidies but, apparently, that does not infringe our sovereignty. We signed the Paris Agreement on climate change and made big commitments on carbon reductions but, apparently, that does not infringe our sovereignty. And, most onerously, we are a member of Nato. That means we are committed to go to war in defence of other Nato members, most of whom are also EU members. So we are prepared to go to war on their behalf but not to let them continue to fish in our waters?
It is time to stop this nonsensical argument that concessions we are prepared to make to others become unacceptable if made to the EU. It’s time to be sensible and come to an agreement with the EU.