Readers' Letters: 'Getting Brexit done' may have done us all in

A protester at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham last October (Picture: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)A protester at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham last October (Picture: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
A protester at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham last October (Picture: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Yes, it’s time for Scotland to get real on the extent of Brexit damage (Scotsman editorial, 31 January). Our food and drink exports have stagnated since Brexit, inward investment has declined and the numbers of EU and non-EU students enrolling at Scottish Universities has fallen. The number of EU nurses and midwives has also fallen.

The value of Sterling has fallen and the UK economy is the only country in the G7 that is forecast to fall in 2023, not helped by the UK Government’s failed energy policies. The Centre for European Reform research indicates that Scotland has lost more than £3 billion in tax revenues as a result of Brexit.

While Scotland’s economy stagnates as part of the UK, the Irish economy grew by 12.2 per cent last year and is the fastest growing economy in Europe.

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As both Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have made clear, there was “no route back to Europe” for Scotland as part of the UK. Independence offers the only hope of a return to the single market and freedom of movement until such time as Scotland decides to rejoin the EU as a full member state.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh


It’s becoming increasingly obvious that many people, including SNP MPs and MSPs, are beginning to realise that Nicola Sturgeon’s dictatorship is heading for the rocks and taking Scotland with it. From the present shambolic situation with her Gender Reform bill and her dithering over transgender male lawbreakers being placed in women’s prisons, her pig-headed insistence on taking on the courts, costing the public purse fortunes it can ill afford, her failures to bring to fruition all her “Number one priorities”, and her tiresome predictable promises at party conference every year to bring independence to the faithful.

Her total disdain toward those of us who refuse to take her word as final was made more obvious a few days ago with her disgusting description of critics and opponents of the GR bill. Another catastrophe we are all facing in August is the ill-thought-out bottle and can return scheme. Let’s see how we get on with the “backward vending machines”. It may come to pass that Sturgeon’s own party will dethrone her before the voter does but one way or another the whole SNP cabal has to be removed from power before Scotland sinks without trace.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Falkirk

Has Sunak teeth?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) tells us that we can expect our economy to deteriorate by 0.6 per cent this year. It's “Declinism”, thunders Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who claims we will do better than Germany once we cut inflation to 5 per cent. So is Jeremy Hunt right: do too many want to talk down the economy?

Consider the basic reasoning behind the IMF predictions. Tougher financial conditions, the persistence of higher energy prices, and financially stretched consumers make conditions on the ground here worse than in other G7 countries.

The case for the defence of the Sunak-Hunt plan goes as follows: if we get inflation down as low as possible we will get growth and the UK will go on to develop our equivalent of Silicon Valley.

It sounds a trifle optimistic for those of us who are no longer spellbound by a conviction that our strong and stable Conservative politicians will deal decisively and appropriately with all issues.

It seems that the very personality qualities that we admire most in an our leaders, stubbornness, a no-nonsense attitude and confidence, have Achilles heels. Stubbornness becomes Intransigence readily. Intransigence over improving our deals with the EU alone has caused trade falling by a fifth, a 6 per cent rise in food prices, and a drain on the workforce.

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By the next election we still know if Mr Sunak was toothless or the wise man from the east. Voters in Scotland must then vote for a party that can immediately either build on or remove those policies that have steered our ship in the last decade. The alternative is to sit on our hands and vote for a non-influential party.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Democratic swill

When Westminster stepped in to try to stop Holyrood's GR Legislation, Nicola Sturgeon immediately responded with her stock-in-trade rant, accusing Westminster of “undermining the democratic will of the Scottish people”. Did she really believe that the democratic will of the Scottish people would support legislation that allows dangerous males convicted of sex crimes against women to choose to be incarcerated in a women’s prison?

The public outcry and her humiliating climb-downs of the last few days have clearly disabused her of such a notion. Her interview on the Scottish TV news on Monday night was positively embarrassing. This whole, shambolic issue urgently needs to be looked at again and next time, some good old common sense, (apparently a rapidly disappearing commodity these days), should be applied. Furthermore, it is worth remembering that this isn't a uniquely Scottish issue. It isn't just another opportunity for Sturgeon to show we are different. It is a UK-wide problem and input from all parts of the Union would surely help to reach a sensible solution.

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Easy does it

If Nicola Sturgeon believes in Scottish independence she should resign right now as she is the biggest obstacle to Scotland regaining it.

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

Limited sympathy

The Scottish Government doesn't seem to understand that while most of the public might be sympathetic to the minority suffering from genuine gender dysphoria, that sympathy doesn't extend to approving a “lifestyle choice” approach to gender. One might reasonably fear that the SG is in the thrall of the trans community, even to the extent of making themselves and other public bodies hostages to fortune with regard to the unintended future consequences of their legislation. And consequences there will be; medical, social and psychological.

Those of us who are tired of the SG's relentless pre-occupation with this marginal issue and the inevitable allocation of scarce resources in the pursuit of questionable benefit, need to call it out and keep calling it out.

R A Wallace, Kincardine, Fife

Plum locums

Recently the chair of the BMA Scotland’s General Practice committee called for a national conversation about the NHS, which was in danger, with the NHS workforce being the largest single cost.

Part of that national conversation should include the rising costs of locum doctors. There has always been a place for locums to provide holiday cover, but since locum payments became pensionable in 2001, the situation has grown out of proportion, with an increasing number of locum agencies offering temporary jobs at up to £100 an hour.

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Not surprisingly this is an attractive career option for both general practitioners and specialists, who can choose when and where they work. Although professionally skilled, locums do not provide continuity of care, which is important and has been shown to lower mortality and the need for acute hospital admissions.

Last year Dumfries and Galloway Health Board spent approximately £9.7 million on locums, due to failure to recruit permanent staff. During the same period the figure for Scotland has been estimated at £230m.

One approach would be to cap locum payments and pensions, and to use the savings to improve the pay, conditions and flexibility of permanent appointments.

Perhaps the BMA could help with this.

(Dr) David Hannay, Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries & Galloway

Serbian reminder

Last week I came across a newspaper cutting, it was of a letter from the eminent barrister Helena Kennedy QC, the journalist Sheena McDonald and other women expressing the need for justice for “our sisters from Srebrenica” where in 1995 around 10,000 men and boys were forcibly taken from their homes by Serbian troops, it was assumed to their death.

Whoever left the cutting documenting a particularly harrowing episode in the Bosnian war realised its importance, but they and the letter’s signatories could never have imagined that over 25 years later Ukrainian women would be faced with similar hardships. Tens of thousands have been subjected to sexual violence and humiliation. Many more have been widowed by troops sent by Vladimir Putin, some by summary execution, as confirmed by the UN.

Efforts should be focused now on bringing Putin and his heinous accomplices to justice. Clearly sanctions are not working, the IMF has downgraded the UK to the slowest growing major economy this year, behind Russia. As was the case in Bosnia, women and children are in constant fear for their lives and thousands have suffered war crimes such as rape, torture, genocide and forced deportation. Attacks on power plants and housing such as the strike on an apartment block at Dnipro are unacceptable crimes, as was the forced deportation of nearly two million Ukrainians to Russia.

The West should take heart that the Serbian leaders, Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, were finally brought to justice for their crimes in Bosnia. It will take years to achieve this for Ukraine and Putin may never be brought to trial, but being serious about prioritising the process for him and his accomplices is arguably more important as providing tanks vulnerable to attack without air superiority.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Who benefits?

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In the Letters column of 31 January, George Shering tells us that electricity is being generated in the Highlands by onshore wind at 4p per kWh, while Archibald Lawrie reports that Highland Council’s Fast Charge rate is to be 70p per kWh. Is someone making a profit, somewhere?

Barry Hughes, Edinburgh

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