Readers' Letters: Lib Dems should campaign for a new Brexit vote

Now that the general public can see that Boris Johnston is struggling with his “oven ready” Brexit deal, is it time for something radical in our politics? There is a clamour for another independence referendum so why not another Brexit referendum?

The Lib Dems have been ambivalent about leaving the trade and security facility of Europe and now that Vladimir Putin is trying his hardest to reinvent the USSR it is not hard to see that a United Europe with the UK as a major player, is one of the Lib Dems’ strong points.

If not them then who? We really need an alternative to the chaos affecting so many parts of our lives – from extended holidays and pet passports to, much more importantly, our trade with the rest of Europe.

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Come on Alex Cole-Hamilton – nail your colours to the mast and let us start a campaign to rejoin Europe. If not, then a pro-Europe centre left party could and should be formed.

Boris Johnson said he had an 'oven ready' Brexit deal

Dr Alan Naylor, Penicuik, Midlothian

Home to roost

Once again we are faced with problems in Northern Ireland where the chickens are coming home to roost regarding the Irish Protocol, which was cobbled together so that the greater need of Brexit could be pushed through to a conclusion.

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The Protocol was designed to ensure that all goods coming from the UK mainland to Northern Ireland must be inspected prior to travelling on to their destination, irrespective of whether their final destination is in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

Would it not be possible to have a system – such as the TIR convention on the international transport of goods – which allowed lorries to travel freely from the UK to Europe, i.e. with no customs check?

Under such a system goods destined for an address in Northern Ireland would pass freely through customs, and goods destined for onward travel to the Republic would require a customs check.

Alternatively the EU, the DUP, and the UK government all need to change their tune and step back from the brink, so that a solution can be introduced. In particular, the UK government must not introduce legislation which would override parts of the Protocol.

One final solution would be for Northern Ireland to leave the UK, which would please many people in Scotland, not least of which is the resident of Bute House.

James Macintyre, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Matters of state

The picture Alexander McKay paints (Letters, 16 May) of the creation of the modern German and Italian states by the various states which preceded them deciding to join together “to benefit the lot of their people” seems rather simplistic.

A variety of forces contributed but in each case a strong nationalist movement which, over many years, refused to take “No” for an answer and which was skilfully exploited by a vigorous state for its own purposes was a major factor, as was the decline of the Hapsburgs.

But in truth each country finds its own particular path to statehood.If one wants to play the historical parallels game the emergence of the Irish Republic would seem the obvious choice but in that case religion was a potent factor. Of more relevance might be the histories of countries such as Poland and Ukraine which were subsumed within other states for long periods but retained their sense of nationhood.

In the end it all comes down to the popular will. Perhaps the odd 90 minutes of patriotism is enough for most people in Scotland.

Sam Beck, Edinburgh

No remit

Yet again we note that Nicola Sturgeon is exceeding her authority as First Minister of the devolved Scottish Parliament. The Scotland Acts under which the Scottish Executive was inaugurated by Westminster made no provision for Holyrood’s involvement in foreign affairs. Such matters are reserved to the UK Government. Why, therefore, is Ms Sturgeon swanning about in the United States on what can only be described as non-Holyrood matters?

It is obvious to most people that the SNP administration's handling of devolved matters such as education, health, public transport – including West Coast and Clyde ferries, policing, environment, etc have proved less than acceptable. The granting of further powers would merely exacerbate this situation.

Surely it is obvious that Sturgeon's attempts to interfere in non-devolved matters are merely a smokescreen to divert the electorate's attention away from the gross inadequacies of the SNP minority administration.

Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife

Big boys’ game

When I read about Nicola Sturgeon discussing foreign policy with the Brookings Institute in Washington, it took me back to when I was a wee boy growing up in Glasgow.

I would see the big boys playing football in the park and I'd go and ask if I could play too (despite knowing very little about the game and even less, how to play).

Invariably the big boys would say "yes” and I would join the game. Sadly, they quickly realised that I was out of my depth and I hardly touched the ball. But, when the game was over, I could at least go home and tell everybody that I had played with “the big boys”!

Jim Houston, Edinburgh

Basic income

A Westminster MP’s basic income, before allowances for expenses, is over £80,000 – or three and four times the wage of a skilled worker such as nurse, teacher, ambulance, police, plumber, electrician, carpenter. That doesn't include the much larger number of people who work for the minimum wage and longer hours in even worse conditions, often without the protection of a trade union.

So in the unlikely situation of a Universal Basic Income being introduced it must be a reasonable living wage offering dignity and not some minimum wage that only just stops starvation but still means we have a society with malnourished people habitually using food banks.

Of course we will need useful and creative jobs for the unemployment resulting from not having an ineffective, inadequate, dehumanising system to administer .

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Sums don’t add up

Dr Alison Smith’s article on Scotland’s economic strategy (Scotsman, 17 May) refers to the lack of a deep harbour to build offshore wind platforms but fails to mention that Forth Ports and others are now owned by private equity companies.

Norway’s thriving ports are owned by local authorities and even in the United States major ports are owned by a local port authority whereas in Scotland there is a conflict of interest, as illustrated when Peel Ports leased its dry port on the Lower Clyde for shipbreaking when it also owns a shipyard in Liverpool. Despite being a high wage economy, Norway is the 19th largest shipbuilding economy in the world with over 100,000 employees.

The £160 million Dr Smith refers to is a drop in the ocean when it comes to reviving Scotland’s economic infrastructure as, under devolution, the Scottish Government has limited fiscal powers and our universities need to be much more pro-active in developing the hydrogen-based and digital technologies of the future.

Norway’s households have one of the lowest electricity bills in the OECD as Norway obtains 93 per cent of its energy needs from hydro-electric sources while Scotland has not capitalised on its natural advantages and the charging policies of the National Grid and Ofgem penalise Scotland’s renewable energy suppliers.

Being outside the EU and comparisons with Norway and Denmark are further examples of how Scotland is held back from fulfilling our economic potential as part of the UK.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Rural fuel

I would like to know what MPs and MSPs are doing to support the many thousands of Borderers who not only rely heavily on oil-based fuels for their cars, but also to heat their homes and provide them with hot water.

We, like many others in rural areas, do not have access to the gas network, so have for a number of years used heating oil (kerosene) as our method for heating and hot water provision.

Now is the time of the year when we would usually fill up our heating oil tank, because typically in the warmer weather, the kerosene prices are at their lowest.

This year we are faced with a tank refill bill of more than £1,800, compared to last year’s cost of closer to £600! We have waited in the vain hope that the the Government would either reduce the VAT payable on heating fuels to zero per cent from five per cent, or at the very least, reduce the fuel levy further than the miserable amount the Chancellor announced at his most recent budget.

We do not have the luxury of being able to manage without our own cars, and like the many tens of thousands of similar households, we are 100 per cent reliant on them because the local public transport network is so woefully inadequate.

We do not have ready access to the wide range of discount stores or supermarkets compared to our urban neighbours so we also pay far more each week by having to rely on higher priced “convenience” stores.

Finally, Scottish Borders, like other rural locations, also has the lowest wage rates compared to urban conurbations, so inflated prices and higher overheads have a major impact on household budgets.

It is about time somebody thought it a good idea to “level up” the conditions under which rural communities find themselves living in these straitened times.

Stephen G Bonner, Selkirk, Scottish Borders

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