A woman’s place is in the thick of the EU debate


Harriet Harman’s complaint to Ofcom about the predominance of male politicians on the airwaves during the EU debate is critical if a fair and fully representative outcome is to be achieved (, 24 May). – who, along with Barbara Castle MP, contributed towards the breaking through the glass ceiling process in the 1960s. The whole EU debate, which is focusing on the ambitions of a small cohort of former public school boys, is creating an opportunity for the reinstallation of the glass ceiling in the UK. And a Brexit vote could only add double glazing to it.
Norma Hornby
Warrington, Cheshire

Why is there so little discussion of values in the EU debate? Why is it so widely assumed that “the national interest” is the one proper focus? This seems to me both morally inadequate and practically misconceived.

The things that threaten our security (climate change, food shortages, storms and floods, war, want and forced migration, etc) call for global solidarity, not fragmentation. Common security is the only kind that makes sense. The UK should work within the EU to make it an instrument of global cooperation.

The irony is that in the name of putting our nation first and asserting our supposed independence above all else we are in danger of breaking that nation into pieces (, 10 June).
Diana Francis

I am a long-standing Guardian reader who will be voting to leave the EU. While I appreciate that I am out of step with the Guardian position on the EU and accept that you will promote the remain campaign, the number of anti-Brexit articles has reached such overwhelming proportions that I find it difficult to continue to read the paper. Is there no room in your newspaper to acknowledge that not all of your readers are pro-EU? Some balance would be nice.
Maureen Tunningley
West Wickham, Kent

Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers stands next to the Brexit battle bus. How will the prime minister deal with dissenting MPs after the EU referendum, wonders reader Margaret E Westwood Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The prime minister’s “huge and unnecessary gamble” (, 13 June) has a further dimension: the possible collapse of the government. What if we wake up on 24 June to a Brexit result? Does the “popular vote” trump the democratically elected government’s policy?

The stupidity of the decision to call a referendum on a major issue – and to compound it by the suspension of collective responsibility – will come to a head when parliament is called upon to implement the result by legislation. In the past MPs who fundamentally disagreed with government policy resigned or crossed the floor. Will the PM restore collective responsibility to all the “leave” Conservatives and have them whipped into line? Constitutionally, parliament must agree to enact legislation to leave the EU. Arithmetically, the combined remain votes in the House could defeat the leavers. So then what?
Margaret E Westwood
Guildford, Surrey

Like many, I’ve been feeling a rising tide of panic over the EU referendum. But I had an encouraging experience on the streets of Norwich last week. Armed with a couple of web addresses on a piece of card, I asked people if they had made up their minds. If not, I suggested the UK in a Changing Europe site, , and . If they were already decided, I asked if they knew anyone undecided to whom to give the information. Nearly everyone started off wary but then became keen to talk and grateful that someone was suggesting a way to cut through the packs of shouting politicians to a more reliable source of information.

Other websites are available, of course, but UK in a Changing , funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, offers a range of experts who have been holding civilised meetings around the country, and Alan Johnson, running the Labour In campaign, gave clear, informative answers to listeners’ concerns.

It’s not too late to get a more sensible conversation going. Just get out and speak to 10 people and see how it goes. You could ask them to try it as well.
Sue Vaughan
Little Melton, Norfolk

“Every day, for six years, three doctors and two nurses have left Hungary” (, 28 January 2015). We rely on migrant medical staff in our NHS because we have not trained sufficient numbers of our own young people. Bursaries for training are to disappear and places at universities are capped. The moral question of “poaching” medical staff from poorer countries such as Hungary is being ignored. We know full well that it is causing untold damage and yet continue to pursue and justify it. Why do we think that migrants are happy to leave behind their parents, siblings, homeland and culture to come to Britain? I am coming to the conclusion that people are being manipulated by EU policy and that the winners are big business (a ready supply of moveable and cheap labour) and government (lower costs in terms of training doctors and nurses). Human costs are ignored. Shameful.
Elaine Heathcote
Biddulph, North Staffordshire

Having worked in the health foods and supplements sector I have seen the crippling effect of EU regulations on these mainly small and independent businesses. The Food Supplements Directive and the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive have in effect thwarted the growth of this sector.

Why should I care? Because I can no longer buy the best cough syrup I have ever tried in the UK.
Debbie Bacon
Reading, Berkshire

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