It is ‘highly likely’ that an independent Scotland would face a ‘hard border’

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The First Minister should not be surprised that there is continued speculation about all manner of potential consequences of independence, because she has stoked up the idea of a second referendum, describing it as “highly likely” after the Brexit vote (Sturgeon dismisses border claims, 17 August).

The SNP’s spin doctors are no doubt unhappy that some of what they will consider as unhelpful speculation is coming from leading figures in the SNP, such as ex-minister Alex Neil.

On matters as diverse as the currency, dealing with the deficit, and the border with the rest of the UK, a range of ex-SNP ministers and current deputy leader candidates have been speaking with greater honesty than we have come to expect.

On the border issue, it is understandable that she would like to take comfort from the assurances about the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland remaining unchanged, but we all know that is a very different proposition. All would share in the hope that a hard border between Scotland and England could be avoided, but given how immigration appeared to be so key in the EU referendum, to use the First Minister’s favoured wording, it is surely “highly likely” that the UK government would be forced to do something to prevent an independent Scotland becoming a gateway for those wanting to head into a post Brexit UK?

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

The First Minister has dismissed suggestions of a “hard border” between England and Scotland.

Once upon a time, my wife’s forbears kept a self interested eye on “any man’s land”, as our border area was then known.

Facing the Royal Border Bridge today, a plaque tells of more recent border guardians. In 1850 alone, when England and Scotland had different tax rates, Customs officials in Berwick seized 100 gallons of spirits at Berwick railway station.

Alan Hughes

Berwick upon Tweed

Nicola Sturgeon might well want to dismiss claims over a “hard border” with England, but the border situation in Ireland is not an equivalent situation, and it is quite wrong to portray it as such.

The important detail here is that Ireland has a relatively low inward immigration rate, much less than the UK, and as such, it is not seen as a back door to uncontrolled immigration by the Westminster government.

There is no political narrative in Ireland looking to promote increased immigration, with the emphasis there still being, as it always has been, on trying to prevent emigration of young people. The important difference with Scotland is that we do have this narrative of creating a very significant population growth through immigration, certainly this is the case among pro- independence supporters.

The two situations are therefore fundamentally different. An open Irish border can be managed, and there is a political will there to do that because the outlook on both sides of the border is the same.

The outlook between Scotland and England is different, at least according to the SNP. The best solution to achieving our own population targets is to not create a hard border via independence, but to work with Westminster in putting together policies which will attract greater inward immigration here from elsewhere in the UK. At present, England in particular is just too attractive. We need to consider why that is, and do something about it.

Victor Clements

Taybridge Terrace, Aberfeldy

It’s really quite astonishing to hear Ms Sturgeon disclaiming an observation from one of her former senior cabinet ministers regarding the likelihood of a “hard border” between an “independent” Scotland and the UK.

The EU laws are quite explicit regarding borders between EU and non-EU countries; the rUK would have little choice as many policies (immigration being just one) between an “independent” Scotland, as an EU member and a non-EU UK would have little, if any concordance. Ms Sturgeon defends her “no hard border” stance by using Eire as the prime example of why there would not be a border, however, as we already know, Eire is not actually in the Schengen Area. which puts to bed that particularly deceitful and misleading argument straight away.

The inconvenient fact is, if Scotland ever became “independent”, there would very definitely be a “hard border” as the EU is committed to open borders and completely unrestricted immigration from EU members, whereas the UK is very definitely not, as voted by the UK electorate recently.

Mark Ward

Dalmellington Road, Crookston, Glasgow