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DESPITE the majority of the electorate in Skipton and Ripon being likely to vote ‘leave’ in the forthcoming referendum, our MP is an enthusiastic pro-European.
That is his right. MPs are representatives, not delegates.
This is a constitutional convention that dates to the 18th century when the philosopher statesman, Edmund Burke, said in a speech to his electorate in Bristol: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
However, a key point about this particular speech was that, although Burke was going against the opinion of his electors, he was prepared to face them and justify his actions in doing so. This is something our MP Julian Smith has failed to do.
I believe it is imperative he should justify his position before the referendum. I’m a fairly new member of Skipton and Ripon Conservatives, but I understand from people here at the time, that when he was selected as Conservative candidate for the constituency in 2010, Mr Smith made great play of his Euroscepticism.
His constituents have the right to be told the reasoning behind his volte face. The series of debates Mr Smith has set up is commendable, but he is not on the panel, he is chairing them. We need to know why he has taken the position he has.
May I suggest a further debate between Mr Smith and the Skipton and Ripon constituency co-ordinator for Vote Leave, who, I believe, has challenged him to a debate in the past. This seems to be an excellent and not too taxing way for Mr Smith to make his views known to his constituents, as the Skipton and Ripon Vote Leave co-ordinator is just a parish councillor.
If Mr Smith does not avail himself of this opportunity, then perhaps it is because he is worried the parliamentary Goliath will be slain by the parish council David (or perhaps Davina).
GRAHAM COOPER
Robin Lane, Bentham

THERE’S so much deliberate misinformation regarding EU membership.
The referendum is far too important to take part in without the most careful thought. It’s not just about generalities, such as cheap foreign travel, multiculturalism. That’s why it’s vital to obtain the facts – here’s just a few:
1. If the result is to leave, there will clearly be a period of transition as the economy readjusts. Economic forecasts are being thrown at us almost daily: given their record, Messrs Cameron and Osborne are unreliable with their figures whilst their pals, including Carney (Bank of England) and Lagarde (IMF), have personal vested interests in our continued membership. Economics – just like politics – is not an exact science: ‘experts’ can only express an opinion. It was ‘experts’ a few years ago who wrongly urged the UK join the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which established the Euro.
2. Labour-intensive employment provided by manufacturing has gone, as many industries, such as coal, steel, textiles, shipbuilding, etc, have died as a result of Government laissez-faire policies and external economic factors, despite EU membership. The EU has not protected jobs, but forbidden the UK from taking corrective action.
3. Protecting employment and women’s rights, tackling environmental issues, etc, should always be on the UK political agenda. Is relying on the EU a lack of confidence in our own political parties?
4. The PM’s ‘reform’ package is far less than he set out to achieve; it is naïve to believe there is any potential for more reform. It is more likely that European institutions will be less inclined to do the UK any favours if we remain.
5. The UK shares many security concerns with our European neighbours. It is inconceivable that European security services will not continue to work closely. It is NATO that safeguards peace in Europe, not the EU, yet plans are afoot for a unified European Army.
TIM CLARKE
Ash Grove, Sutton-in-Craven

THE advantages of remaining ‘sovereign’ and being in control of our own destiny, far away from the totally undemocratic gravy train that is the EU, are numerous.
But the sinister manner in which the audit of the accounts, if in fact undertaken, has been suppressed for 20 years, is staggering. How do we really know exactly how our £350 million per week is being spent.
The report, already concluded, on the effect that the current level of immigration will have on our education system will not now be published until after the referendum! What do we know of the true state of NHS finances or the deficit in the public sector pension pot, which continues to grow alarmingly?
Away from the EU, let us not forget the suppression of the Chilcot report. The families of those affected and the nation at large deserve clarity and honesty on all these points.
DM HUMPHREYS
Daisy Mount, Airton

ANYONE who has studied what fracking involves will be deeply concerned that this technology is now going to be used as close to us as Ryedale.
Large amounts of toxic water have to be disposed of somewhere above ground, whilst below ground no one can possibly predict the routes that these chemicals will follow in our complex local geology, amidst rocks that have just been deliberately fractured at pressure.
Areas where it has taken place report health risks, heavy pollution and large amounts of extra heavy lorry movements. None of which is great for the tourist industry. None of which is helping transform our economy away from fossilised technology and onto more modern low-energy consumption.
In these circumstances, it is hard to understand why our local MP voted to allow fracking below the Dales National Park, provided the drilling began just outside. It is also hard to understand why elected representatives of North Yorkshire residents voted in favour of inflicting fracking on the county. Perhaps our local North Yorkshire county councillors would like to explain why they voted the way they did on this issue and how well they think this reflects the views and wishes of their local electors?
ANDY BROWN
Green Party
Main Street, Cononley