Sir, It is reported that the odds remain on Mr Major scraping through forthcoming Commons votes on preferring a simple adjournment motion to an amendment debate on the Common Agricultural Policy, including the Cabinet's handling of the beef crisis, and on a Bill for a referendum on the EU, not least because David Trimble's Ulster unionists are not keen to bring him down at this stage in the peace process.

However, given the Ulster unionists vociferous criticism of government contact with Sinn Fein even through the protection of Michael Mates, not to mention the government's insistence that Northern Ireland's beef industry should sink with England's, surely it is now time for David Trimble and the Ulster unionists to either put up or shut up on these issues. Otherwise the Ulster unionists threat about formal government contacts with Sinn Fein and about the separating off of the decommissioning obstacle, that they will not wear it, cannot have much credibility. Yours, etc., Montague Road, Birmingham.