Letters: EU campaigners have lost support by shouting and personal abuse

SIR – The proposed increase in the diesel tax is a cynical tax increase that would have no significant impact on consumption. The vehicle owner has no choice as to which fuel to fill in his tank.

If the government is to discourage the use of diesel, it must levy an additional tax on the purchase price of the vehicle – not on the fuel used.

Graham ME Barber
Sudbury, Suffolk

Scientific powerhouse

SIR – Science drives our prosperity, health, innovation and economic growth. It should be at the heart of the EU debate. As British Science Nobel Laureates, we are concerned that those commenting on the science of Brexit are lacking in scientific leadership and are jeopardizing the excellence of British research.

Within the EU, Britain is helping pilot the world’s largest scientific powerhouse. The EU has a critical mass of expertise, with more than one in five researchers worldwide moving freely within its borders. It contributes to scientific agility, boasts some of the best minds and facilities in the world, and invests heavily in research, people and infrastructure.

EU decisions on science policy, funding and regulatory frameworks impact science around the world. At home, Britain has access to people and finance, and exerts far greater global scientific influence than we have alone.

The prospect of losing EU research funding is a key risk for British science. Brexit claims that the Treasury will make up that shortfall are naïve and complacent given that successive governments have allowed the UK to remain well below the OECD and EU averages in its research investment as a share of GDP.

Claims that the UK could still access funding from outside the EU are also flawed, as such access will almost certainly be conditional on adopting the very principles Brexit rejects, most notably free movement. Science thrives on the permeability of ideas and people and thrives in environments that pool intelligence, minimize barriers and are open to free exchange and collaboration.

The EU offers such an environment and scientists appreciate it very much. That’s why a recent survey in Nature showed that 83 per cent of British scientists want the UK to stay in the EU. We may be an island, but we cannot be an island in science. Being part of the EU is good for British science and it’s good for Britain.

dr Sydney Burner
Winner, Physiology or Medicine 2002
Mr Martin Evans
Winner, Physiology or Medicine 2007
Mr André Geim
Winner, Physics 2010
Mr John Gurdon
Winner, Physiology or Medicine 2012
Professor Peter Higgs
Winner, Physics 2013
Mr Tim Hunt
Winner, Physiology or Medicine 2001
dr Thomas Lindahl
Winner, Chemistry 2015
Sir Kostya Novoselov
Winner, Physics 2010
Sir Paul Nurse
Winner, Physiology or Medicine 2001
Professor John O’Keefe
Winner, Physiology or Medicine 2014
Mr Richard Roberts
Laureate, Physiology or Medicine 1993
Mr John Sulston
Winner, Physiology or Medicine 2002
Mr John Walker
Prizewinner, Chemistry 1997

Lobby for assisted suicide

SIR – Sir Graeme Catto is a former Chairman of the General Medical Council.

He is also chairman of the Dignity in Dying lobby group (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society). The survey on assisted suicide to which he refers – which he said found that “only 7 per cent of people agree with the current position of the BMA” – was sponsored by this group and was one-sided.

It is not true that doctors “prescribe whether the law changes or not”. The British Medical Association’s opposition to legalizing assisted suicide may make lobbyists uncomfortable, but Parliament is free to ignore it if it so chooses. There is nothing improper in the BMA’s policy. It’s a policy that most doctors strongly support.

Baroness Hollins
Former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the BMA
London SW1

Service fee

SIR – There are about 80 charities in this country dedicated to the welfare of former soldiers of past wars.

As a former soldier in World War II, I have been regularly contacted by several of these charities over the years – always asking for money.

Gordon Hemmings
Birkenhead, Wirral

Driven to despair

SIR – Hands-free calling in cars is now said to be dangerous.

What about chatty passengers?

Michael Nicol
St Albans, Hertfordshire

Who is to blame for the lack of a royal yacht? Letters: EU campaigners have lost support by shouting and personal abuse

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