Foggy walk in the parish of Brewham.
Foggy walk in the parish of Brewham.
Future historians will ask in exasperation: “Why were we so negative about our future?
Owen Paterson’s letter calling for a vote of no confidence in Teresa May is outstanding in its assessment of the situation which the United Kingdom finds itself. Teresa May has sadly squandered the golden opportunity given to her 2 years ago and we have yet to see what, if anything, will be rescued from the mess she has presided over.
Here is the letter in full:
Dear Sir Graham,
I write to inform you that I no longer have confidence in the prime minister. It would be a travesty if the democratic verdict of the 2016 referendum – the largest in British history – were not delivered, yet the prime minister’s proposed “deal” is so bad that it cannot be considered anything other than a betrayal of clear manifesto promises.
These broken promises typify more than two years of poor government decision-making. It was a mistake not to begin intense preparations for leaving on WTO terms the moment the result was delivered, approaching the negotiations with a stronger hand, positioned to walk away without a deal and consequently much more likely to secure a good one.
It was a mistake for our EU negotiations to be led by a career civil servant with no business experience when the government had on hand a vastly experienced international trade negotiator, Crawford Falconer.
It was a mistake to create a new Brexit department only to keep two secretaries of state so in the dark that they had to resign over a policy one would have thought they were overseeing.
Trying to bounce cabinet ministers into supporting her white paper on the future relationship before they had a chance to consider it fully – as the prime minister did at Chequers – is simply an intolerable way for a prime minister to govern.
It was a mistake to treat Brexit miserably as a problem to be solved rather than an exciting opportunity to be grasped. The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy. We are a key NATO member, a permanent UN Security Council member, a Commonwealth realm, a nuclear power.
We are the source of the English language, the common law and occupy the ideal time-zone for global trade. Yet from the outset we have approached these negotiations as a feeble and unworthy supplicant. As Falconer said, future historians will ask in exasperation: “Why were we so negative about our future?”
These mistakes have eroded trust in the government, to the point where I and many others can no longer take the prime minister at her word. Almost two dozen times, she has ruled out membership of the customs union, yet the withdrawal agreement’s “single customs territory” sees us locked into it in all but name.
The backstop would see the whole UK remain in a customs union with the EU, with Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market. This could see new internal UK borders in breach of the Belfast Agreement’s principle of consent and the requirement to consult the Northern Ireland Assembly.
It breaches the Acts of Union 1800. The UK would not have the unilateral right to end the arrangement. We could be locked into it indefinitely as a permanent rule-taker while paying £39bn for the privilege.
European customs experts regard the withdrawal agreement’s customs arrangements as woefully out of date, proposing physical stamps and paper systems not used for nearly 20 years. They are so vague that it would be impossible to put them into practice.
Eleventh-hour “reassurances” on this issue are mere warm words if the legal text is unchanged. In any case, there is much more besides the backstop making the withdrawal agreement unacceptable.
No amount of tinkering will yield a majority in parliament for this deal. The government needs to consider more boldly the possible alternatives which might command that support. President Tusk offered just such an alternative in March: a wide-ranging, zero-tariff free trade agreement.
That deal foundered on the question of the Northern Ireland border, but existing techniques and processes can resolve this. From my October meeting with Michel Barnier, I know that a willingness exists on the EU side to explore these possibilities more fully. The meeting also confirmed that Tusk’s offer is still on the table.
Throughout this process, I have sought to support the government. The conclusion is now inescapable that the prime minister is the blockage to the wide-ranging free trade agreement offered by Tusk which would be in the best interests of the country and command the support of parliament.
I, therefore, have no confidence in Theresa May as prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party and ask that you hold a vote of no confidence.
The drawback with fitting a permanent bike rack to the back of the Berlingo is that the gas struts that open (and hold open) the boot lid, will likely struggle. When I originally fitted the Fiamma Carry Bike to the back of our 2009 Citroen Berlingo, it only had two bike rails. Whilst the boot gas struts still opened the boot, they did struggle – even more so in cold weather.
Recently, we purchased an extra rail for the bike rack – taking the total to three, along with the extra clamp. The downside to this addition was that the boot would now really struggle to open and remain open. After narrowly missing some painful head collisions with the slowly descending boot lid, it was time to get some new gas struts. My brother-in-law has a T4 Carravelle with the same bike rack fitted. He mentioned that he bought some uprated gas struts for his VW as he had the same problem. After a bit of Googling it transpired that whilst uprated gas struts were available for the VW, there was no such option for the Berlingo. At this point I figured that simply buying new struts would be enough as the current ones are getting on for 9 years old. However there was nothing lost in giving SGS Engineering a call. SGS very helpfully informed me that they could supply uprated (680N of pressure as opposed to standad 625N per strut – so extra 110N in total!) gas struts for the Berlingo, so I ordered a pair there and then.
Arriving the next day, the struts are very easy to fit. Clear, easy to follow instructions on how to remove the old struts and fit the new ones can be found on the SGS website. All you need is a flat head screwdriver and someone, or something to hold the boot fully (it must be fully, totally open!). If you don’t have the boot open as far as it can go, then you won’t be able to fit the new struts. It goes without saying, that the boot lid (with rack on) is very, very heavy. Do one at a time and take extra care.
With the new struts fitted, the boot opens like new and stays open! Can recommend this modification if you have a bike rack fitted to the back like we do.
If you’re the owner of a VW T4 then you have the option to use a really great bike rack, the Fiamma Carry Bike. Trying to find a decent bike rack to fit our Berlingo was a much tougher challenge, until I came across another Berlingo owner who had adapted the Fiamma VW T4 bike rack to fit. The Fiamma VW T4 is not cheap, and the thought of having to drill and cut it made me somewhat apprehensive, but if worked, then it should make for a great bike rack.
First off, if you do this, you’ll void any warranty and you do so at your own risk. If you mess it up, you can’t hold me responsible!
The process involves:
So, in order to help those out there who may be considering the same thing – here’s what I had to do.
Once you’ve assembled the rack, slide the two black brackets onto the top of the boot lid. On the Berlingo Mk 3 (Note – this Fiamma Rack will only work on the Mk3) there are two indentations in the boot lid, use these to slide the brackets on.
Once the brackets are roughly in place, unscrew the feet at the bottom of the rack to about 4.5 cm. The reason is that the whole bike rack is held in place by tension from the bottom brackets pulling the rack downwards. By extending the feet you can ensure that there will be enough slack to tension up (not too much though!).You can rest the rack on the feet when measuring up. Also, just use two of the rubber feet for the bottom. Leave out the middle one – otherwise you will really struggle to fit everything. Then carefully mark with a pen the position of the holes at the top of the rack – using the holes in the top bracket as a guide.
At this point, you can fit the bottom brackets and make sure you can still see the pen marks for the holes at the top. Depends on how careful you want to be! I measured 13.5cm from the top of the rack to the marks I made for the new hole positions.
Then, take the whole rack off and carefully drill with a 6mm bit the new holes you marked out for the top brackets. This is not as easy as it sounds. I took the option to drill from both sides, rather than go all the way through. Ideally, you’d want to disassemble the rack and use a bench drill to get the hole spot on.
Once you’ve drilled your new holes, put the rack back on the car and centre it, then put the bolts through the top bracket. Don’t put the nuts on at this point as you’ll need to take it off again in a minute!
If you’re happy with everything, take the rack off again as you’ll need to trim off the excess rack that goes beyond the top brackets. If you don’t, you will mark or dent the roof of your car as they will dig into it when the boot is fully opened! Take out the red stoppers (a flat head screwdriver will do this). Then mark off where you want to trim the excess. On mine it worked out as 4.5cm from the centres of the new top bracket holes I had just drilled. Cutting is the easiest part of the whole process – just use a hacksaw. Once done, file off the burrs and put the red stoppers back in.
Put the rack back on the car, put the bolts through the top brackets, then open the boot lid (you’ll need to support it) and hook the bottom brackets over the bottom of the boot lid and put a bolt through each one and through the hole on the bottom of the rack. Put the washer and nut on and tighten both up. This will have the effect of pulling the whole rack downwards, tensioning it all up so it won’t move.
Then, put the nuts on the top bracket bolts, tighten up, check all the other nuts and you’re good to go.
You may or may not need a lighting board. Depends on your bikes!