Herald letter: cost of leaving the EU vs that of leaving the UK.

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


Herald letter: Equal Union

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

Herald letter: New Smith Commission.

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.

In which I get international recognition for a wee bit of observation…


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Herald letter: 2014 vote and young voters.

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.

 Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon granted the vote to young people in the belief that they would vote for fairy tales: in the event, Scotland’s young people proved to be wiser and more sensible than the Nationalists assumed. As the high-water mark of Scottish nationalism fades with Mr Thomson’s memory, the fact remains that the young were not, and are not, as daft as the SNP believed.


Herald letter: Neil Oliver Is A Great Guy.

THE response of Scottish Nationalists to the appointment of Neil Oliver as president of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is as predictable as it is small-minded. As a long-time member of NTS, I find it hard to see a better ambassador than such an accomplished populariser of Scotland and its heritage.

I am sure that your readers will make their own minds up on some of his views which tend to challenge the self-satisfied nationalist stereotypes of victimhood and blameless historical passivity. However, they should also be informed that Neil Oliver has not referred to SNP and Yes voters as “cancerous” (as your correspondent Robert McCraw – Letters, October 4 – alleges.)