I had feared that Brexit had left this country with nothing to hope for, but Boris Johnson changed all that for me in his speech on Wednesday when, through his refusal to rule it out, he implied that he might yet resign from the cabinet.

Julian Self
Milton Keynes

Watching the Foreign Secretary deliver his rousing appeal to the nation to get behind the miracle of Brexit, I could not feel anything beyond that I was watching a man wriggling on the hook of his own ambition, desperately trying to persuade himself that his chosen path would, somehow or other, work out. Verily, a new low in Tory politics. 

Gerron Stewart

How could anybody be surprised by the Oxfam sex scandal?

Sexual abuse is widespread, so how can anyone be surprised by revelations of exploitation in the world’s most lawless and ungoverned spaces? The aid agencies are certainly not – the issue was categorically put on the table by the 2002 West Africa scandal, which implicated 40 organisations in claims of “aid for sex” with refugee children.

As co-author of the 2002 West Africa report, the principal failure here, as always, is the cover up, which puts agency needs above those of the victims. Aid-worker abuse cannot completely be eliminated – as with all crime, it is a fact of life. But risks can be minimised and problems dealt with transparently. 

Aid is delivered in an unaccountable space – those who pay for aid in developed countries are too removed; those who receive it in developing countries are too powerless. Donor governments, like ours, play a critical role in holding aid agencies to account, including if it means (responsibly) withdrawing funding. There is no reason why an agency’s track record in safeguarding beneficiaries cannot be a key criterion in making grants – the money should surely go to the best. 

Those who claim that “good works” will be undermined fail to understand the competitive world of aid, and short change the victims by suffocating their calls for justice. If donor governments can exercise their financial clout, they will be doing us as taxpayers a favour – and more importantly, protecting those we want to help.

Asmita Naik

In order to carry out Brexit, there needs to be an end destination

Peter Chapman, Letters, correctly states that Boris Johnson and his ilk have none of the project management skills needed to deliver Brexit. However, as Chapman knows, successful projects require a desired endpoint, with inherent tasks agreed along the way. Unfortunately, this Government does not seem to know what it wants, other than “Brexit means Brexit”. This is because, as David Davies intimated only a few short months ago, the complexities of the EU and the wide-ranging consequences of it have not been fully understood, which is why a transition period is now being sought.

However, Chapman states that the Government should get on with leaving the EU for the sake of our children. The reason why there is so much debate and division in the country is that the majority of young people do not want to leave, and increasing numbers of people, according to the polls, are agreeing with them.

If leaving were really such a good thing, there would be agreement about the endpoint. Instead we have some wanting to leave lock, stock and barrel, some wanting to stay in the single market and customs union and, others want the whole fiasco and Article 50 to be cancelled. Then there are those saying we should see what the negotiations bring about on 19 March and have a second referendum on that. 

Meanwhile, we have a real possibility of the UK being broken up as the Scots voted to stay in the EU, and there are increasing calls for a united Ireland if there is a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic due to one country being in the EU and the other not. 

This project has really not been thought through! 

Linda Johnson

A great piece from Matthew Norman

This is simply an immediate reaction to a first reading of Matthew Norman’s piece in defence of George Soros. What an outstanding piece of writing. Forthright but nuanced, focused but panoramic, it surveys the territory whilst honing in on the hollowness of those arranged against a good man. 

More please. 

Name and address supplied

In defence of the coalition in Yemen…

I write to you concerning an article titled “UK has responsibility for Yemen crisis after exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia, Nobel Laureate says”, by Shehab Khan, which The Independent published on 10 February.

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen operates with the unanimous support of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 to thwart an Iranian-backed rebellion in Yemen against the legitimate and internationally recognised government.

The coalition deeply regrets any civilian deaths and firmly denies allegations of deliberately targeting civilians. The coalition’s campaign fully complies with international humanitarian law, it uses state-of-the art targeting procedures and engages in best practice targeting processes. Conversely, international organisations, including Human Rights Watch, have reported ongoing efforts by the Houthi militia in Yemen to recruit children and force them to the frontlines.

Where accusations have been made of breaches of the law by the coalition, they have been investigated by the independent Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT), which upholds the same standards used by the United Kingdom when faced with claims of having committed similar breaches in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any lessons learnt are acted upon and the JIAT’s findings are made public.

Saudi Arabia continues to lead humanitarian efforts in Yemen to alleviate the suffering of its citizens. On 22 January 2018 the coalition announced the launch of the Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Operations, an expanded relief programme that has committed billions of dollars in aid and support for the humanitarian response to the conflict in Yemen.

The coalition did not start and does not want this war, but it has the right to act in self-defence and it will not allow a radical militia allied with Iran to take over a country. Since the conflict began, Houthi militia have fired 95 ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia from Yemen, deliberately targeting civilians and populated areas.

The coalition seeks an early end to the hostilities and is committed to finding a political solution, based on UN Resolution 2216, to end the conflict and restore peace and security to Yemen and the region.

Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK