Sunday Column: Britain must stand by Hong Kong.

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

The New York Times

By Derek W Gardiner

Over the past few months China has proven itself a serious threat to global health and security. From covering up the Coronavirus and then unleashing it upon the world, to now renewing its attack on the freedoms and democracy that the citizens of Hong Kong enjoy under the "one country, two systems" agreement.

It is approaching the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China, which took place under the Sino-British joint declaration of 1984; when then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, just two years after fighting to retain the Falklands from Argentine rule, agreed to return Hong Kong to the Chinese after the 100 year lease that Britain held over it expired. In return the Chinese agreed to allow the territory to retain a high level of independence such as; a free market economic system, political freedoms and the rule of law until at least 2047.

We may come to regret this handover as a mistake, perhaps we could have argued that the lease giving us rights over HK was made with the Chinese Empire and not the People's Republic of China. Under British rule HK experienced far more freedom and prosperity than other cities in China.

Since 2014, the Chinese have openly flouted the 1984 agreement. From denying democracy to attempting to extradite HK citizens to China. Their latest attack is to impose its own security laws making it illegal to advocate for the secession of Hong Kong from China as well as introducing other vaguely defined crimes such as, "subversion" and "foreign interference" which could have the effect of rendering criticism of the Chinese communist party illegal.

The people of Hong Kong are quite rightly outraged by this and it is the duty of Britain and the commonwealth to defend the freedoms of Hong Kong. When protesters stormed the Hong Kong parliament last summer it was British flags they waved. Now the United States is taking the lead on supporting the people of Hong Kong. Last year the US congress passed legislation requiring the secretary of state to certify every year that Hong Kong remains autonomous. Last week President Trump announced that he would impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who had undermined the territories autonomy.

The UK must now follow suit. Set up a task force to ensure Hong Kong remains autonomous, place sanctions on the leadership of the Chinese Communist party, not just for their actions in HK but also for their actions in covering up the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic. We should offer all the legal residents of Hong Kong the chance to apply for British citizenship and gain the protection of the British state.

Let us lead the way in the global response to Hong Kong so that it's people can fly the British flag with pride once again.

It's time for Scottish Schools to go back.

Education in Scotland is nothing short of a disgrace. 30% of Primary School pupils move onto to secondary school illiterate, there is a lack of subjects on offer in Scottish schools compared to their English counterparts.

You can always rely on the SNP government to make a bad situation worse by announcing that, in a further effort to be different from England, they will ensure children continue to miss out on education until August by which time they will have lost out on a full three months. Three year groups of students will not be allowed to sit exams which could have easily been sat in September and will most likely fall behind students in lower year groups as a result.

At today's press conference Nicola Sturgeon talked about punishing day trippers by legislating for a 5 mile limit in which a person may travel for exercise rather than focusing on children's education. Sturgeon clearly has her priorities in all the wrong places

We are going to need cars more than ever now.

I don't currently drive myself but I'm not bigoted against those who do as the Greta Thunburg brigade are. Social distancing has presented the left with a choice to either throw away their green credentials or be more at risk of catching the Coronavirus. Restaurants and cafes are now using disposable menus and cups for hygiene reasons, farewell and good riddance to the "zero waste" cafe, and hermetically sealed cars have been encouraged as the main mode of transport to avoid unnecessary strain on public transport. May as well just ditch all this green mumbo jumbo while we're at it.

Cars are the perfect mode of socially distanced travel and life should be made easier for them by repealing green taxes such as Sadiq Khans Ultra low emission (ULEZ) zones and reducing road tax.