Readers' letters: Australian trade deal is another blow to the Scottish economy

Brian Wilson (Scotsman, June 19) talks up the Australian trade deal but without giving details.

In this July 29, 1979 file photo, Zambia's President Kenneth Kaunda greets Britain's Queen Elizabeth II upon her arrival in Lusaka, Zambia on the final leg of her four-nation African tour. Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda has died at the age of 97, the country's president Edward Lungu announced Thursday June 17, 2021. (AP Photo/File)

This deal has not even been published in full, nor debated in Westminster or the Scottish parliament.

As the Australian deputy prime minister said “the big winners are Australian producers and Australian farms,indeed Australia full stop", not the UK.

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UK farmers are worried tariff-free, quota-free imports, eg of beef and lamb will undercut their businesses and there are many concerns over Australian safety standards, eg use of hormones.

Brexit has already cost Scotland’s economy around £4 billion and less trade is being done now than before January l.

This deal does not in any way mitigate the disastrous ongoing loss of trade from leaving the EU – the estimate is that the GDP in Scotland and UK as a whole will be three per cent lower by 2030 than it would have been without Brexit.

It seems the deal hardly benefits the UK economy at all and is another argument for independence and democratic governance which protects Scottish livelihoods and the economy.

Pol Yates


Nicola’s list

What a good idea from Ken Currie (letters, 19 June). He suggested that Nicola Sturgeon should publish a list of countries with which she would welcome a trade deal.

I would encourage Nicola to start with France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. She could then move on to Ireland, Malta, Poland and many other European countries.

The best way to achieve a trade deal with all those countries would be for us to become a member of the European Union, especially as there is no prospect that Brexit will ever be successfully "done".

Brian O'Callaghan


The Irish route

Brian Wilson (Scotsman, June 19) remarks that England is Scotland's largest trading partner and we should not jeopardise this important trading relationship by playing 'mindless politics'.

By which he presumably means we should suck up the Australian trade deal he is extolling and know our place.

However, he then correctly points out that when the UK joined the Common Market in the 70s, Australia successfully diversified its export profile into China and the Pacific region.

Likewise, prior to independence, Ireland's trade was dominated by trade with the UK. Today, less than 10 per cent of Irish exports go to the UK. There is no reason why Scotland could not follow the same path.

Give Boris Johnson credit for consistency. Scotland is not mentioned once in the Brexit deal, and almost needless to say, Scotland was not deemed worthy of consultation on any aspect of the Australian deal.

It is another slap in the face and clear indication that Scotland's interests can only be served by independence.

Jim Daly


Pig in the middle

Ken Currie (letters, June 19) can try to apply lipstick on the Brexit pig, but it’s still a pig.

On Friday HMRC announced a £2bn fall in food and drink exports to the EU in the first quarter of the year, and a 90 per cent drop in dairy product sales.

All of the bluster Boris can muster won’t conceal the scale of this unfolding disaster.

New trade deals with partners on the other side of the globe won’t begin to close the gaping hole leaving the EU has left in our export markets.

The Amersham and Chesham by-election results show that the voters in the Tory heartland are finally taking notice of the Brexit pig.

Scotland recognised the pig from the outset. It’s time we left the sty.

Leah Gunn Barrett


Travel travails

Regarding the proposed ban on older cars in Edinburgh and three other cities, I have discovered that there is no longer a direct bus route from Kelso to Edinburgh and the quickest journey by that method now takes two hours 45 minutes or more, not two hours and five minutes.

It involves a change of bus at St Boswells with complex and uncertain times owing to Covid.

Travellers searching bus timetables online are directed to the Borders Railway at Tweedbank, 20 miles from here, where they may go up to Edinburgh. One gets the feeling that there is no alternative.

Now the pensioner who won't be able to go to Edinburgh and three other Scottish cities because their car is too old will be forced onto the train, which of course is not free for the bus pass brigade.

The Scottish Borders Council could have served their senior citizens better than this rotten deal!

Christian Orr Ewing

Kelso, Borders

On the ball

Douglas Cowe (letters, 19 June) describes Radio Scotland's 'Off The Ball' as "garbage" and makes a few other derogatory remarks about the programme.

I regularly listen to 'Off The Ball' with my son, and we thoroughly enjoy it. Get off your high horse Mr Cowe.

Joan Grant


Kenneth Kaunda

I was astonished that the Scotsman did not report the death of ex-President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia who died last week at the age of 97.

Most of the neighbouring countries in Africa have ordered several days of official mourning for someone described as the lion of Africa.

He ruled Zambia from independence in 1964 for 27 years, and when finally defeated in an election, unlike so many other rulers, accepted the result.

He did, of course, make some mistakes, notably over the adoption of Tanzanian style agriculture, but his Commonwealth enthusiasm endeared him to the Queen and he steered a difficult path with South Africa.

Indeed, on his release Nelson Mandela made his first foreign visit to Zambia to greet his old friend and ally.

I was lucky enough to be invited by him in 1968 when President of the anti-apartheid movement to visit Zambia and I still treasure a wooden carving from that visit.

In 1972 when I was ejected from Ian Smith’s Rhodesia he instantly invited me to dinner at his house, and did so again in 1979 with some of his cabinet when he was rather gloomy about the future of South Africa.

On his last visit to the UK I was able to give him lunch in the House of Lords where he was warmly greeted by so many.

Most important to him was his upbringing on a Scottish mission, where his father was a preacher and he attended school. His passing is the end of an era.

David Steel (Lord Steel of Aikwood)


Hope not hate

In his continuing mission to accuse the SNP government of every fault imaginable, Alexander McKay takes one unpleasant and unknown video clip and turns it into a blanket condemnation of Scottish nationalism (letters, June 19).

This clip apparently demonstrates what has happened to Scotland since the SNP were elected to government.

We all hate the English, it seems. Not true! Not true, at all!

Brian Bannatyne Scott


Care home deaths

The Labour party is rightly attempting to get to the truth about the effect of the pandemic on care home and NHS workers.

The SNP owe it to the families directly affected and to the wider public to confirm the exact number of deaths occasioned and to establish whether the shortages of PPE were a factor.

Getting to the truth may prove difficult. If the Crown Office is to undertake an investigation it is to be hoped that it is not subject to a "communications framework" such as that imposed upon Public Health Scotland (PHS).

It stipulates that any communications likely to "challenge - or [which] could be interpreted as a critique of - Scottish government policy", must be "risk managed" with a view to reducing potential impact on the reputation and credibility of the organisations."

The effect of this led to the infamous PHS report which stated: "There is no statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks [of Covid] ".

It was seized upon by Nicola Sturgeon to try to exonerate herself, only to be dismissed by the Office for Statistics Regulation, which provided the truth that "discharges were consistent with a causal relationship between discharges and outbreaks".

It also came to light that Audit Scotland was pressurised by the SNP into removing from their report on PPE the word "shortages", again no doubt in an attempt to conceal the truth from public gaze.

Hopefully the reform of the Crown Office will allow it to operate free of SNP pressure in future.

However, the only way we will get to the truth on this issue and generally on Ms Sturgeon's principal election slogan that she provided "serious leadership" through the pandemic is via an independent judge led public inquiry.

Colin Hamilton


Judgment day

I was intrigued to read Murdo Fraser’s comments on the Forstater judgment (Scotsman, June 16).

He claims that “the High Court judgment is considered, detailed and balanced, and repays close study.”

If Mr Fraser had, in fact, closely studied the judgment he would be aware that it is not one of the English High Court but rather a decision of the UK-wide Employment Appeal Tribunal and which has no connection to the High Court whatsoever.

The authority of Mr Fraser’s comments should perhaps be seen in this context.

Eric Gilligan


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