BORIS Johnson has conveniently turned a blind eye to the actual reality of the ownership of UK’s key strategic sectors. Many are actually controlled by overseas interests, in numerous cases by our former EU partners. So much for “taking back control”!

Former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher, through her privatisation policies, ensured key strategic assets were sold into foreign ownership. This was unlike most other developed countries like USA, France and Germany, where such sectors were protected from foreign control.

A recent estimate is that around half of British companies are now owned by foreigners; one of the most notable was chemical giant ICI, which was sold to the Netherlands, with patents, research and skills gone. Steel, glass, confectionery, cars have previously gone. National newspapers and media, fiercely protected elsewhere from foreign control, have been taken over by foreign business interests, with ineffective regulation.

Key national airports like Heathrow and Gatwick are now foreign owned, the British Airport Authority is owned by Spain. Seaports Liverpool, Glasgow and Great Yarmouth are in foreign hands, as is our busiest port, Felixstowe.

At least 71% of the nine English privatised water companies are owned by overseas organisations, £6.5 billion in profits was siphoned off in 2013-18, £1.4 billion in 2017 alone by these companies.

Gas and electrical power companies include foreign companies, like the French nationalised EDF and the German E.ON. The UK nuclear industry is run by the French EDF.

The British train companies are state-owned – by foreign countries including German, French, Dutch and Italian companies. Our train fare increases help to keep fares down on their nationalised rail services. Even London buses are owned by the Germans.

With so many of our key strategic sectors owned by our former EU partners, Brexit appears increasingly irrelevant. Taking back control, when the Thatcherite Tories have sold off so much of our infrastructure and manufacturing to foreign companies, is delusional.

Andrew Milroy
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

AS we ”take back control” by leaving the world’s biggest single market and throwing ourselves into Trump’s American Dream of chlorinated chicken and privatised healthcare, we must consider another consequence of this Baldric-style cunning plan.

Less than a year from now, on February 5 2021, the last remaining nuclear pact between the United States and Russia will expire, ending more than a half-century of arms control between the two countries.

The 2010 START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was the last remaining restraint on both nations’ strategic nuclear arsenals. The treaty limits each country to no more than 1,550 strategic, offensively deployed nuclear weapons, and verifies compliance through robust on-site inspections and data exchanges.

Russia has twice offered to extend the agreement. In his first phone call with Putin in January 2017, Trump reportedly rejected this suggestion and denounced START as a “bad deal”. In December 2019, Putin again offered to extend the treaty – this time immediately and without preconditions. To date, the United States has failed to accept this offer.

As the countdown began to START’s expiration, Derek Johnson, executive director of the Global Zero movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, made the following statement: “Today marks a countdown to nuclear chaos. If Donald Trump lets START expire, there will be no restraint, no inspection, no verification whatsoever of American and Russian nuclear activities for the first time since 1972.

“Both nations will be free to build even more nuclear weapons, with no obligation to declare, display, or control any of them. It will be a return to the most dangerous days of the Cold War, and the security of the entire planet hangs in the balance. The collapse of New START would be a global disaster – and can be avoided at the stroke of a pen”.

For us in Scotland the choice couldn’t be more crucial. Either we cravenly follow England into Johnson’s American fantasy world, or we leave the UK and become a normal, modern democratic state in Europe, like Ireland or Denmark. We can then join the 122 states that voted to support the TPNW (Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons) in 2017.

And it will be good riddance to the world’s most powerful machine for the mass killing of human beings, Trident.

Brian Quail

I TAKE exception to the current Prime Minister repeatedly being referred to as Boris. Calling him by his forename implies that comments come from those who feel (probably wrongly) him to be a nice, cuddly guy they would wish to have as a friend. In this context I must express my annoyance at Lesley Riddoch’s article in yesterday’s National where, including the headline, Boris appears on 20 occasions which then became a distraction to what was being reported. Call him by any other name, but please refrain from the false representation which gives him a friendly image.

Kenny Lang

A MESSAGE to Dominic Raab’s departmental civil servants. Your boss thinks you are a load of numpties as you cannot devise a system of selective immigration as is currently available in Canada and elsewhere. Let me help. Tomorrow go to minister Raab and says “Put the letter S after the National Insurance number for people going to Scotland”. You will get a big fat bonus and a promotion. Pure dead honest.

M Ross