Sir Christopher Chope was right to object to the private members’ bill concerning female genital mutilation. Bills that concern people’s liberty and, as in this case, the custody of their children should be given the fullest debate and the most careful line by line consideration, which usually can only happen when they are backed by the government.

FGM has been illegal throughout the UK since 1985, and yet we had had to wait till 2015 for the first prosecution and until this year for the first conviction. By contrast France has managed over a hundred successful prosecutions during the past 30 years. The clear inference from this is that Britain lacks the will to tackle this problem.

Liz Truss, James Brokenshire and other MPs who are criticising Sir Christopher over this bill are really just virtue signalling. If they were serious about ending FGM, they would be demanding that the Home Office, the police and the prosecuting authorities prioritise its suppression.

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They might also consider adding powers to deprive those convicted of committing FGM of British citizenship and order deportation on completion of sentence. The availability of such sanctions might well concentrate minds in the communities which still practice FGM.

More than anything else, what is most needed is not fresh legislation, but the relentless will to suppress this vile practice.

Otto Inglis
Edinburgh

We already have a pro-European centrist party

Steeple Morden (Letters, yesterday) calls for the setting-up of a new pro-European centrist party. Such a party already exists, and it’s called the Liberal Democrats. It is not necessary to go through the hassle of creating a new party and getting it registered with the Electoral Commission.

Electors are free to vote for Lib Dem candidates at the next opportunity. MPs and councillors can transfer to the Lib Dems without waiting for an election. Meanwhile, electors who prefer a slightly more environmentally conscious agenda may wish to support the Green Party.

Time is now up for the tired old dinosaur parties, which ought to be consigned to the oblivion that they richly deserve. Their adherents ought to be reminded that the British empire no longer exists (thankfully) and that illusions of sovereignty and glorious independence are but a pathetic mirage.

The majority of electors who (according to the latest opinion polls) prefer remaining in the EU deserve parties that represent their interests and not those of a bygone age. It’s time to move on and make realistic progress in the modern world.

Sam Boote
Nottingham

What does the PM think about in church?

We often see Theresa May and her husband leaving church on Sundays. What does she think about during worship?

Has she spared a prayer for the 63-year-old grandmother her government wants to expel back to Sri Lanka?

Or the others heading on charter flights to the Caribbean?

As an atheist, I plainly don’t understand religion properly, but I fail to see how anyone can reconcile the teachings of Jesus with this sort of policy.

Peter Kent
Address supplied

Politicians can learn from our animal cousins

Reading the article about Chimpanzees at Belfast zoo (Chimpanzees escape from Belfast Zoo enclosure using tree branch ladder) did make me think.

Our close relatives in the ape world managed to use their initiative to extricate themselves from a deep enclosure in an efficient and timely manner.

Now, compare that to the deadlock which has gripped the country for over two years. The so-called best political brains in the UK are totally unable to get us out of a catastrophe of their own making called Brexit.

Just maybe, next election I shall vote for the person in the monkey suit!

Robert Boston
Kingshill

The new citizenship test

Does the proposed new test of “Englishness” include a test of one’s ability to ignore reality, believe you’re right when all the evidence shows the opposite, and an ability to hold multiple meetings even when all the other participants tell you there’s no point?

Or maybe, knowing the name of the third wife of Henry VIII is the solution to the Irish backstop we’ve all been looking for.

Steve Mumby
Bournemouth

Would a written constitution really have saved us?

John Rentoul (A written constitution can’t save us from Brexit now, yesterday) is wrong.

A properly constructed constitution that does not allow changes to the fundamental construction of the country with anything less than a two-thirds majority in a referendum and of both houses of parliament would have prevented this gerrymandering.

It would not have fixed the underlying problem but would have brought it smartly to the surface without trashing the place.

Simon Allen
Address supplied

It is probably true, as John Rentoul implies, that written constitutions create as many problems as they resolve; and that the flexibility of the British constitution, which, like the common law, has developed organically over many generations, has on the whole served us well.

However, one strength of written constitutions, whether of countries, clubs, or associations of many kinds, is that they usually require a two-thirds majority of voting members for any major constitutional reform, to prevent precipitate and ill-considered change.

On that basis, neither the Scottish Independence referendum nor the Brexit referendum would have got anywhere near the required majority for authorising radical change, and we would not be in the mess we are in today.

If only Cameron had declared before the referendum that any vote to leave the EU had to achieve a two-thirds majority!

Gavin Turner
Gunton

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