Last week, the CEO of the Irish Postal Service wrote to the Financial Times complaining that the UK Post Office has refused to implement the necessary systems to comply with the EU customs rules following Brexit.
He pointed out that the Irish Postal Service has to return thousands of items daily back to the UK as they fail EU customs’ checks. As a result, many SME’s have stopped trading with Ireland and from January the EU customs rules are mandatory for every EU country and if the UK government doesn’t act, trade with Europe will decline even further. The solution, he says, is for the Royal Mail to implement a duty paid system to help EU consumers of UK goods.
Brexit is a disaster that just keeps on giving, but Labour refuses to commit to a return to Europe or entertain the single market or freedom of movement in order to boost Scotland’s economy.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh
I had a similar experience to SM Duthie. My son recently moved to Brussels and I sent him a paperback which cost over £7 to post from Edinburgh, duly labelled with the customs docket as having no commercial value.
This was at the beginning of August. During one of our weekly telephone calls, I asked him to let me know if and when it arrived.
Weeks later, he said he had heard from Belgium Customs that they had a package and could I email him to confirm that I had sent it to him and what the value was.
More weeks went by and he advised me that they would only deliver it to him if he paid 16 euros, otherwise it would be returned to sender. He chose the latter option and I eventually got the parcel in early October.
Ordinary letters to their house are delivered without any problem and usually,within seven days of me posting them.
It would appear that, as SM Duthie says, parcels randomly attract further charges.
Methinks that Brexit has caused some of the Belgians to take a scunner.
J Lindsay Walls, Edinburgh
Gender Act fear
In describing the Gender Act at present being ramrodded through Holyrood as the ‘’First Minister’s Poll Tax’’ JK Rowling speaks for many.
It is incomprehensible that those pushing these measures through, predominately in the SNP and Greens, cannot accept the very clear danger to the women and girls of Scotland inherent in their plans.
Perhaps more importantly than even the nitty gritty of the new proposals, is the poisonous spread of hate and intimidation against anyone expressing concerns.
This has led to Edinburgh University, the birthplace of Enlightenment, forcing the cancellation of a film that shows a point of view contrary to those who would impose their views, and their views only, upon us is shameful.
It is not something I often suggest, but may we have a referendum on this matter, please?
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
There is much to cheer this Wednesday and an occasion for a celebratory drink.
The winter solstice will happen then at 21:48. Daylight length in Edinburgh will be 6 hr 57min 37 sec (in Lerwick it will be 5hrs 49min 16 sec.) By 31 December daylight will have stretched to 7hrs 3mins and 56 secs.
From then on each day brings more light along an exponential curve to the spring equinox on March 20 at 21:24.
In days gone by, ancients, who had great respect for the earth and its movement in space, celebrated this tremendous event by fire symbolising the life-giving force of the sun.
It is a message of hope and optimism in these troubled times that sSpring will return in due course and things will get better.
William Loneskie, Lauder
John Swinney in his budget statement said ‘the majority of people in Scotland still [pay] less in taxation than if they lived in the rest of the United Kingdom’.
While technically true, this claim warrants careful examination.
In 2017, then Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay introduced the 19 per cent starter rate and the 21 per cent intermediate rate around the basic tax rate of 20 per cent. These remain in place.
The 19 per cent starter rate applies to a very narrow income band and the resultant reduction in tax revenue is more than offset by the 21 per cent intermediate rate. Thus, these changes were made at no cost to the Exchequer.
For 2023-2024, the effect of these tax rates will be that people living in Scotland and earning up to £27,800 per annum will, in a year, pay up to £22 less in income tax compared to the 20 per cent basic rate that applies elsewhere in the UK. Above £27,800, people in Scotland pay more income tax.
For someone on an annual salary of £20,000 (roughly equivalent to full time employment on the minimum wage), weekly take home pay (after deductions for income tax and National Insurance) will be £310.30 in Scotland compared to £309.88 in the rest of the UK, a benefit of 42p which equates to 0.1 per cent of net pay.
It is clear that this minor tweak to the basic tax rate delivers no meaningful benefit and does nothing to address poverty. Rather it is designed to facilitate spin, such as Mr Swinney’s statement, and to distract from the SNP administration’s failure to develop and implement a coherent economic plan.
George Rennie, Inverness
Alastair Stewart writes with an irony of which he seems scarcely aware; “....for any political party, to brazenly go against the interests of their electorate and harm it for the sake of some grand ideational vision is despicable," (Scotsman, December 17).
On both sides of the Atlantic we have seen the folly of Conservatives and neo Cons alike, but they are the parties of the true believers who have now fully succumbed to the mad ideologies of Reaganism and Thatcherism pursued to their irrational supply-side ends.
Far worse though, and perhaps not even worthy of being called a grand ideational vision, was that perpetrated by 'New' Labour and Bill Clinton's 'New' Democrats on their electorates: globalisation and its attendant gutting of trade union rights and secure employment, magic tricks like PFI, still costing our health and education systems a massive amount, and wars, lots of wars.
Clinton and Blair were the first people in their respective countries to use the highest office in the land as a dress rehearsal for their real careers, getting rich. But there is Gordon Brown, still thinking deep thoughts and in Stewart's mind, admirably so.
What happened to 2014's Vow? And as far as abolishing the Lords goes, Starmer distanced himself from that the very next day. There needs to be a comfortable retirement home for the mediocre of Labour's back benches.
Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh
The 155-page Labour document "A New Britain" is a tedious, turgid read even for political geeks and insomniacs and no one, so far, has given up on their lifelong commitment to Scottish independence with the promise of an elected mayor (sic) for Edinburgh.
The document has one hook to get the public talking ie the popular abolition of the House Of Lords, which first appeared in the Labour Manifesto of 1935.The Attlee Government in the Parliament Act of 1949 only reduced the time the Lords could delay a bill. I am not holding my breath.
The Institute For Government concluded "The Review does not propose the devolution of significant new powers to Scotland or Wales". It has nothing to say about how we exert our right to self- determination.
Gordon Brown decries centralisation but the Treasury would hold on to the major taxation powers. Scotland desperately needs greater autonomy over Immigration but there is no mention. The Home Office would retain its iron grip on the Misuse Of Drugs Act.
Yet the one surprise in the document is the propsal to give limited powers to make foreign agreements but that is de facto independence. In 1931 the UK Government agreed to such powers when it set up a "British Commonwealth" of the so-called Dominions, ie Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. From that point on, they all became effectively independent but tied to the British Empire for trade, defence and free movement. By 1945 they were all de jure independent.
A raft of recent opinion polls have made our reaction to the Supreme Court decision clear. With the Tories in disarray, Starmer will say nothing to frighten the horses. His focus is on the former red wall seats of North England.
Labour here can never hope to emulate the current support in England as they are now portrayed as a Brexit Party, to the despair of Scottish Labour. "A New Britain" will not put the nationalist genie back in its bottle.
John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing
The pantomime season is upon us, although some people would say that we have had another year long pantomime at the Scottish Parliament.
To put the record straight, the essential character prerequisites for a pantomime would have to be - the Evil Villain, the Damsel in Distress, the Hero, The Principal Boy (a male character played by a female), and the Pantomime Dame (a female character played by a male), Pantomime Comic, Pantomime Fairy and Magical or Imaginary Creatures. I hope that Equity don't know about this.
A Merry Christmas and grievance-free New Year to everyone.
Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh
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