YOUR correspondent Alan Watt (Letters, January 17) is quite right to ask whether a calculation has been made regarding the cost to Scotland of leaving the UK Single Market. After all, if the choice which the SNP believes we must make is between the EU and the UK, we need to know what both decisions would entail. If the cost of leaving the EU could be £12.7 billion per annum, this should be scaled up in line with the fact that about 60 per cent of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK while about 15 per cent of exports go to the rest of the EU. Working on this ratio of 4:1, the result is an estimate that the cost could be as high as £50 billion per annum.
One of the key weaknesses of the Scottish Government’s new report is that it does not factor in potential benefits from Brexit – such as removal of or reduction in tariffs on Scotch whisky in the massive markets of China and India – which could reduce the negative impacts. The same applies to any estimate of the cost of leaving the UK. Therefore none of these figures can be taken to be gospel.
We must all also hope that the worst-case scenarios of a hard Brexit or no-deal Brexit are avoided. However, there can be no doubt at all that to leave the UK would be far more costly to Scotland than the UK leaving the EU.
Peter A Russell
RUTH Marr describes the UK as an “unequal Union” (Letters, December 12). One wonders in what kind of world there can be an arrangement more equal than one voter, one vote, the basis on which we decided to leave the EU. Likewise, Scots decided on the same basis to stay in that Union in 2014, which is a good job as the evidence is that, otherwise, Scotland would have left the UK and with it the EU in March 2016.
We can only imagine the chaos that would have ensued when the SNP tried to negotiate simultaneous exits from both unions in a space of 18 months.
Peter A Russell
I WOULD like to propose a way though the current thicket of debate regarding future devolution of powers due to be repatriated from Brussels to the UK following Brexit.
The most recent set of powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament were determined by the Smith Commission, which was all-party in its composition and reached its conclusions unanimously.
It would seem a good idea to reconvene the commission to decide on a practical and pragmatic basis which powers would be best retained at Westminster (for example to support the UK single market on farm and fisheries subsidies and other state aids) and others which might be better devolved. As Holyrood currently has a full legislative programme, it will surely be unable to cope with new powers following Brexit, so the Commission could also consider which current Scottish Parliament responsibilities should be passed on to (or back) to local authorities.
If Lord Smith feels his work is done, I am sure that an alternative chairman or chairwoman could be found – Lord (Jack) McConnell springs immediately to mind as a former First Minister and lifelong proponent of devolution. As a member of a party that is in neither of Scotland’s governments, he would also be an honest broker.
Above all, the lesson of the recent successful resolution of the SNP’s Police Scotland VAT mess was that to get the best of both worlds, compromise is sometimes required on both sides. A new Smith (or McConnell) Commission would be exactly the right forum to achieve the agreement that Scotland needs.
Peter A Russell
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YOUR correspondent Sandy Thomson (October 31) tells us “young people on the streets of Barcelona remind me so much of the equally young Scots who voted decisively for independence in 2014”. In which case, his memory is playing tricks with him.
In fact, the British Election Survey confirmed after the Scottish referendum that both the 16-19 and 20-24-year-old age groups rejected independence in roughly the same proportions as the rest of the population.
My review of his Glasgow speech on Scottish Fabians website: http://scottish.fabians.org.uk/the-grown-ups-in-the-room/