Published Letters

The New Statesman


Wilkes’s Progress

Dear Sir,

In his essay The age of volatility (NS 14-20 July 2017) Robert Tombs perceptively provides John Wilkes as the historical precedent for the modern day populists of Trump, Farage, Corbyn et al. But he does the 18th century radical a disservice when he says Wilkes “was not seeking office.” Indeed, it may be said that few have tried harder than Wilkes to secure political office. In 1757, after an election campaign said to have cost him £7,000, much of it in bribes to voters, he was returned to Parliament for Aylesbury. Following his expulsion for alleged sedition in 1768 he was re-elected for Middlesex on 16 February, and again on 16 March after a further expulsion, despite a Commons’ resolution that he was incapable of being elected to serve in the present Parliament. He was eventually re-elected to Parliament in 1774. In between and whilst in prison in 1769 he was successfully elected as Alderman for the ward of Farringdon Without in the City of London, (leter becoming sheriff in 1771 and then Lord Mayor in 1774). Readers may see his statue in Fetter Lane within the ward which I now have the honour to serve as his successor in office (if not, in anything else).

Gregory Jones
Ward of Farringdon Without.

Financial Times


The Irish are used to taking second place

[embolden heading title given by FT editor]

From Gregory Jones QC. Sir, You are right to lament that the impact of Brexit on UK-Irish relations was “barely raised” during the campaign (“Britain’s relations with Ireland need special care”, editorial, July 29)

Sir, You are right to lament that the impact of Brexit on UK-Irish relations was “barely raised” during the campaign (“Britain’s relations with Ireland need special care”, editorial, July 29). But this is nothing new for Ireland. Iris Murdoch memorably quipped “I think being a woman is like being Irish … Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second place all the time.”

In this case the situation was compounded by three factors: the presence of the pro-Brexit Theresa Villiers as secretary of state for Northern Ireland, whose statements on a post-Brexit border-free travel for Irish citizens have already been shown to be simplistic; the apparently bizarre stance of the avowedly Unionist DUP to support the Leave campaign, followed by advice from leading DUP MP Ian Paisley that its people should apply for citizenship of the Irish Republic; and the failure of Ireland to elect a new government and Taoiseach during the Brexit campaign period until very soon before the Brexit vote, causing the Irish voice to be more muted that it might otherwise have been.

UK-Irish trade is estimated at €1bn a week. Dublin-London is the world’ssecond-busiest international air route. Tens of thousands of Britons live in the Republic, millions of Irish in the UK. Hundreds of Irish people travel to Liverpool, Manchester and London every weekend to attend Premier League football matches. While it is entirely unclear whether Brexit means a reduction or merely “control” of EU immigration, in either event to suggest that it would be possible for Irish citizens to enjoy privileges denied other EU citizens travelling to the UK is doubtful, but even if workable would require some sort of “hard border” crossing in Ireland between the north and south, particularly since the DUP is firmly opposed to internal passport control for travel between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

With my own family straddled across the border in Belcoo and Blacklion, I know only too well the problems caused by fixed border posts. Since the easing of “The Troubles” it is estimated that about €3bn of goods cross the border each year. Despite what Brexit advocates say, a stiffening of crossing arrangements on both sides would be inevitable post Brexit because the border would become an EU external frontier.

Gregory Jones QC

London EC4, UK

Financial Times


January 13, 2016

Sir, I agree with Sarah Gordon that the absence of women in high executive positions is shameful (“Stop skirting around the lack of women in the room”, Comment, January 12).

In the UK, the situation will not alter until the tax situation for childcare is changed. Nannies’ salaries in London are over £30,000, a little less if accommodation is provided. The cost of childcare must be paid with income which has not only been subject to income tax but also national insurance. You are then obliged to pay employer’s national insurance on top of that and the conscientious also pay for employer’s insurance. This is time-consuming and many employ a company to run the administration.

Additionally, there is the obligation to pay the nanny’s pension contributions. Only those on very high incomes can make the sums work. It is a real deterrent to young women making their way in the City and those not at the very top. They are mostly forced out of the workplace at a critical stage in their career.

The answer? Not another complicated tax credit scheme but a simple tax deduction for childcare costs. The main political parties are no doubt frightened that the media will accuse them of giving tax breaks to the “higher earners” but if politicians are really serious about equality then it is from the ranks of the young professional women that tomorrow’s judges, chief executives and board members are to be drawn.

Those women cannot afford to be out for 10 plus years from the workplace — to which many of whom never return in any case.

Gregory Jones QC

Francis Taylor Building


The Times


Nepotism spurned

Published at 12:01AM, June 6 2013

It’s all very well to accuse some professionals of nepotism, but what if your young relatives don’t actually want to work for you?

Sir, All may not be lost for James Caan (“Mobility czar eats his words to let daughters work for him”, June 5). As embarrassing as it is when exposed, nepotism is only kin deep. The real problem is when your child does not want to benefit from nepotism.

My daughter celebrates her 10th birthday tomorrow. She does not want to be a lawyer. I am thus open to exchange a legal internship to a child with a parent who can offer either a dolphin carer or toy-maker/inventor placement.

Gregory Jones, QC Temple, London

The Economist


On alternative medicine, the special relationship, banks, China, Pakistan, India’s cinemas, Nick Clegg, beer, DSK

SIR – Rebranding the special relationship between America and Britain as the “essential relationship” does not solve the problems it is presumably intended to address, namely, the obvious imbalance in power and the suggestion that it ranks above any other bilateral relationship enjoyed by the two countries (“Essential, but fraying”, May 28th). The problem is not with the word “special”, but with the use of the definite article, as in “the special relationship”.

My suggested rebrand is “a special relationship”. After all, as my eight-year-old daughter reminds me, you can never have too many special friends.

Gregory Jones, QC