13:09, September 10 145 0 theguardian.com

2020-09-10 13:09:03
Damage done by Tories’ disregard for rule of law

The issue of whether the UK government will ever be trusted again after deciding to openly and decisively break the law is obviously very serious (Government admits new Brexit bill ‘will break international law’, 8 September). More worryingly, once again the Tories are demonstrating an open disregard for what others think of them. Last year they showed a willingness to abuse their power with the prorogation of parliament.

More recently, leading officials have shown that rules do not apply to them (Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham and the support he got from ministers). The lies, deceptions and broken promises we saw throughout the Brexit fiasco continue in their handling of Covid-19. All this is done openly. What people think does not bother them.

This blatant disregard of any attempt to honour the trust that the people of Britain have (or had) in them is already showing itself as the “new normal” in the wider community. For example, big businesses, following the government’s lead in abuse of power, are sacking and rehiring on worse employment terms. Employees are being bullied back into work without the necessary assurances regarding their safety. The hospitality sector, as well as schools and other “group gatherings”, are encouraged to deceive people about their safety even though we are seeing a massive increase in Covid-19 cases. Dishonesty is the new norm. We should not be surprised therefore when we see the public following suit.

Shaun V Soper

Midhurst, West Sussex

The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, rightly stressed in two recent interviews the UK’s status as an independent state. However, as Ursula von der Leyen said (Report, 7 September), the UK also has obligations under international law and, as Philip Hammond (former Conservative chancellor) said, breaking the agreement with the EU “would be incredibly dangerous and would hugely damage our standing on the world stage”. A country, independent or not, that reneges on its legal obligations in this way would rapidly be viewed as an international pariah. Not, one would hope, a policy outcome sought even by this government.

Paul Hewitson

Sneem, Co Kerry, Ireland

The recent resignation of Sir Jonathan Jones is a shocking indictment of the government’s latest EU exit strategy (UK’s top legal civil servant quits over Brexit deal changes, 8 September).

Elizabeth Wilmshurst resigned from her position as deputy legal adviser to the Foreign Office in 2003 over her opposition to the legal advice that the Iraq war was commenced legitimately in accordance with UN security council resolutions. She was eventually proved right. With the confession of Brandon Lewis that the internal market bill “does break international law”, it only took a few hours for Jones to be proved right.

Philip Crowe


In 2019, at a university climate change debate, I sat agonisingly through MP Sir Bernard Jenkin’s admonishments of climate change supporters, telling them they must adhere to the law if they are to be respected. Now he supports breaking the law on the EU withdrawal treaty. How easy it is to lose your own integrity at the stroke of a pen. Why would anyone wish to support the disgraced Tories now?

Collin Rossini

Dovercourt, Essex

Can I now steal, say, a bottle of whisky from a supermarket and not be breaking the law? After all, this action is very specific and limited?

Gary Bennett