Opt-out penalties

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RD Cramond (Letters, 20 May) asks if, in the event of independence, the remainder of the UK (rUK) would lose opt-outs on VAT. Expert opinion suggests that under international law the strong probability is that the rUK would be considered the continuing state. It therefore seems likely that it would retain its existing terms of membership.

But let us for the sake of argument assume that rUK found itself in the same boat as Scotland. It would have to either apply for admission or petition the existing member states to amend the European Union treaties in order to regard it as if it were a member.

In either case it would then find itself in the position of trying to negotiate favourable terms but with the very real possibility of losing out on current opt-outs.

But of what benefit would that be to an independent Scotland apart perhaps from offering some nationalists a brief wallow in schadenfreude? If independence should result in both Scotland and the rUK being outside of the EU then is that not a very strong argument that we are better together? The only guaranteed way to avoid losing EU opt-outs is to opt in.

COLIN HAMILTON

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

IT IS nice of Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to pop up to Scotland. Funny how he attacked both the SNP and Ukip for putting the UK’s membership of the EU in jeopardy (for different reasons), but managed not a word against his Tory friends for their intended disruption of matters European with their proposed renegotiation and referendum.

Like the other parties who form Better Together, he tells Scots that if we vote No, along will come better devolution. (Echoes of untruths from Thatcher and Douglas-Home?) All of the No-men have made this vague offer, none has said what it means. All ensured that nothing of that kind was on the referendum ballot slip.

Mr Clegg says that the Liberal Democrats will “guarantee” this enhancement of powers. That means nothing from the party that said it would not allow university fees in England to rise during the general election campaign, then voted with the Tories to raise them once in power .

This is the party that promised Scottish home rule and a federal UK for a century. Every time it had the opportunity to deliver, it found a reason not to.

Seeing how things are going, I doubt if Mr Clegg can guarantee much of a Lib Dem survival rate in the European election, never mind anything beyond that.

Thomas R Burgess

St Catherine’s Square

Perth

WITH yet another European Union commissioner stating that an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership and also negotiate its own terms of entry, RD Cramond, (Letters, 20 May), asks if these conditions would then also apply to the remainder of the UK (rUK)?

I think not, in that a member who resigns from an organisation does not affect the status of that organisation, beyond reducing the membership. In this case that would be by roughly 10 per cent.

The UK would surely still exist in the form of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and would continue in membership of the EU under the existing arrangements. If this would not be the case, then the European Commission has been strangely silent about it. 

There is no such thing as “rUK”, just as there would not be a country known as “rSpain”, should Catalonia or the Basque Country secede from their unions.

Walter J Allan

Colinton Mains Drive

Edinburgh