LET me assure Alec Wall (letters, December 24) that British democracy, in today`s world, is actually strengthened by our EU membership. 
 No major discussions take place, let alone binding decisions get taken, in the EU Council of Ministers, without the full participation of one or several of our own cabinet ministers - who are, of course, in their turn accountable to Westminster. The EU Parliament, containing British directly and democratically elected representatives, play an active part in all this. Our own Parliament also (particularly the relevant Committee of the House of Lords, which has a full quota of experts on European affairs) follow developments closely, and make their influence felt. All this, not only on matters directly affecting the UK domestic scene, but also our neighbours and indeed the future of Europe. 
 In fact, we have more influence, from inside, over what our fellow EU members do and think, than we could ever hope to have, if outside the loop - ask the Norwegians and Swiss about that! Which is why not only the great majority of our business and banking community, but also even our university vice-chancellors, and our top scientists, have come out clearly against "BREXIT".
 But there is much more to it even than all that. We also need to factor in a wider and frankly disquieting reality, which militates for continued UK membership of the EU, and for a more positive EU role in the world as a whole. 
Of course, we on these islands have not, for a long time now, been the world`s Number One, as we were in the 19th Century, able to stand alone in defiance, where we did not (as we mostly did, in the imperial age) actually impose our will on the planet! The Brits no longer possess absolute national sovereignty - a point readily recognised by the PM and Cabinet when they discussed it, as long ago as 1970,in preparing our accession to the European community. (I know, because I was in Whitehall at the time, and helped write the paper before them - Mr. Wall is welcome to dig it out of the Public Archives in Kew, when he next has a day to spare!). Even in the US, but also in China, India, Brazil and the rest, sovereignty these days is to some degree shared, and exercised in part through alliances or international bodies like the UN, the IMF, ASEAN and such, and of course (for us) through the TransAtlantic partnership and NATO. 
The plain fact is that the UK cannot survive without friends and allies, if we are to face up to the future, which is, for planet earth,frankly problematic, to say the least. Our very own Lord Rees of Ludlow (former President of the Royal Society) once put the chances of civilisation as we know it surviving the 21st Century at only 50 per cent! We will not improve these odds, by leaving the EU and crawling into a cave, alone and without influence or defence.
Whatever Ukip and other extremists may seek to establish, Euroscepticism is not going to be the solution to anything, for you, me, our children or our grandchildren.
 SIR LESLIE FIELDING, [sometime Counsellor, FCO; Director-General for External Relations, European Commission; and Vice-Chancellor, Sussex University]
 Elton, Nr. Ludlow