JULIAN COLE’S column of January 17 refers to a letter in The Guardian which I have not seen.

However, of the benefits claimed for the EU, the 57 per cent of our trade credited to the EU, did not enlighten us on whether it was import or export.

But I read today that our trade imbalance with Europe is of the order of £55 billion, not to our benefit.

This gulf is offset by some £40 billion earned by the financial trading in London but this, valuable as it is, is a not physical asset and therefore could be susceptible easily to relocation.

The reference to structural funding provided by the EU, I would surmise, could well be a repatriation of some of the billions we contribute to EU funds after the demonstrably fraudulent and extravagant Brussels outfit has taken its cut.

Most of the other creditable benefits mentioned required significant expenditure on our part and could just be kept “in house”.

The body politic in this country is lacking in knowledge of the significant trade we had with the near continent, despite such things as way-billing and export documents having to be handwritten, lack of containerisation and disruption from two world wars – all of that trade was accomplished without the unnecessary Socialist construct that is the EU. Europhiles promote, quite wrongly, the belief that we cannot function profitably outside the EU.

Derek Chapplow, Middlethorpe Grove, York.


• AT the 1975 referendum called by Harold Wilson, I unhesitatingly voted in favour of the UK remaining in the EEC.

Unlike my few Tory friends, I never doubted that it would move towards increasing integration, economically and politically, as well as seeing the organisation expand.

Equally, unlike my (few and likely to be fewer still) remaining Lib-Dem friends, I now welcome an ‘in’ or ‘out’ referendum. How I vote will depend on how successful Cameron & Co are at delivering those much-needed reforms.

That said, while remaining prejudiced in favour of remaining in the EU, I harbour few real doubts that the (surviving) UK will prosper if it ceases to be a full EU member. (An independent Scotland may, of course, move in the opposite direction) For me, the big question remains that if this referendum ever happens and if the vote favours remaining in the EU, will those vociferous Tory right-wingers finally stop whining and whinging, accept the democratic decision and move on?

Nick Blitz, South Lane, Haxby, York.


• DAVID Quarrie’s response to recent comments by Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European Affairs in the US, are predictable. But I think some cool reflection is called for (Letters, January 12).

Those who say we don’t need Europe or the US need to ask themselves if the countries of Europe and the US are not our friends in the world, then who are our friends? China? Saudi Arabia? Argentina and Chile perhaps? Pakistan and North Korea? Russia? Before anyone mentions the Commonwealth, reaching consensus in that group of nations is just as challenging as agreeing on things in the EU.

The world is a complicated place and throwing the toys out of the pram because you don’t get everything you want doesn’t solve anything. If we walk away from all our allies we don’t become more powerful, we become irrelevant.

Some realism is called for. Nearly half of all our trade is with the EU and now the US is making clear that if were to leave the EU then many US businesses would be relocating to countries still in the EU in order to have access to the single market of 400 million people.

This isn’t bullying, it is simply an assessment of the economic consequences that would follow any decision by the UK to leave the EU.

Christian Vassie, Blake Court, Wheldrake, York.