Richard Ede (Letters, 12 January) is under the impression that Britain “is a contrivance of largely English device”. It was, of course, a device conceived of and created by King James VI and I, who was a Scottish king and the first king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
As to the Union of the Parliaments, there were many factors at work. The famines in Scotland, coupled with the disastrous Darien Scheme, had weakened Scotland’s economy.
Scotland’s main markets for linen and cattle were almost exclusively in England and the English were becoming exasperated by Scotland’s assertion of her right to decide on a different monarch from England. The effects of such policies would have been disadvantageous to both nations, as were differing policies regarding trade.
Scotland wanted free trade with England and, for that, there was a price to pay. The lesson regarding the Union of the Parliaments cannot be lost on anyone who is a Scottish nationalist any more than they can on a pro-EU unionist either. Such unions come at a price.
There had been several previous negotiations about a parliamentary union before 1707. Parliamentary union was what the English wanted and free trade was what the Scots wanted. By Parliamentary union, both got what they wanted.
The decision was, ultimately, mutual.
Andrew HN Gray