Beeching’s flawed task to rethink 1960s railways
I have a little history relating to Dr Richard Beeching, which may or may not be of interest.
In the late 1950s, I found myself working with Ernest Marples, then Minister of Transport, in his Eccleston Square apartment with its basement bar (the walls lined with the original newspaper cartoons under the then popular heading Marples must go!).
The Minister said to Dr Beeching: “Dick, I want you to imagine you are coming down to a Britain with no railways, and I want you to set out for me what ideal railway layout you would create.
“And then Dick, I want you to look at the existing British railway system, and tell me how we can turn the latter into the former.”
I suppose there could be less imaginative briefs, but this one really did not work out too well, did it?
We must remember however that, in the 1960s, the railways were old hat, and the future lay with the exciting new system of motorways which the Minister was also masterminding.
No one at that time could have forecast the explosion in road transport which is now leading to the reconsideration of the railways.
Prime Minister must be replaced
Only one thing was ever going to foul up Brexit, and it was politics. Knowing that, the Government had plenty of time to decide what we wanted to achieve, what we were going to offer in return and what we would do if we didn’t get it.
Instead, we had a pointless and ultimately disastrous election, and a cave-in on the negotiations agenda which now means that we must resolve thorny problems like Ireland before we can even begin to discuss trade. The weakness that has shown is now being exploited by every politician who wants a headline that makes them look tough.
In addition to the EU negotiators, we have Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, Malta, France, Scotland and Wales telling us what they want and don’t want, plus opportunistic Labour politicians out to make as much mischief as possible.
Theresa May is a busted flush, and must be replaced by someone with the steel to take back the initiative. Every single one of the countries who seem to be setting themselves against us, and by us it seems that I must mean England, has an Achilles heel, and we should tread on it – now!
May must be tough in exit talks
No one said Brexit would be easy – and so it is proving.
Every day there are new twists and turns and it seems at every hint of a step forward, negotiations take three paces back.
It is hardly surprising that talks with the EU are stuttering when the Tories cannot agree among themselves or even put on a public show of rowing in the same direction.
And it is hypocritical of the Labour Party to criticise when they are also in a complete shambles over Brexit.
But one thing is clear – the majority voted to leave the EU to escape its bureaucratic stranglehold on British life and to regain control of our borders and stop uncontrolled immigration.
Theresa May must be strong in the face of all obstacles and not lose sight of the fact that the EU needs us more than we need them.
It is a strong card in her hand and she must play it well.
Paul Nuttall North West MEP
UK Independence Party