Nicola Sturgeon hasn't thought through this second bid at Scottish independence

Is another referendum the will of the Scottish people? Not everyone’s convinced: PA Wire/PA Images

The United Kingdom’s economy with its economic imbalances and persistent budget deficits is far from perfect but we Scots would be fools indeed to leave it. The fact is, it operates as a near-perfect common market with a common language, a common currency and free movement of goods and labour.

It also has a federal transfer system that moves funding from the wealthier to the poorer parts and in recent decades Scotland has been a huge beneficiary of such fiscal transfers. The idea, promoted by Nicola Sturgeon, of leaving the UK to preserve access to the European common market is economic suicide and just too silly for words.

Not only is the EU a minor trading partner, it’s shambolic common market that has no common language, no common currency and only a partial free movement of goods. There is much less free movement of services while its federal transfer system is so riddled with corruption and parochial interest that actuaries refuse to sign off its accounts.

Rev Dr John Cameron
St Andrews

Nicola Sturgeon is “outraged”. Again. This time it is “democratic outrage” because the UK government takes the view that a referendum rerun would only be fair if people have a reasonable idea of what they are voting about. The SNP base their case on the deal with the EU proving to be the “hardest of hard Brexits”. So they have to wait and see if they are right and then it will be clearer whether a second referendum is justified.

Given previous SNP outrage over Brexit campaign misinformation, it is ironic they now seek to hold a vote specifically before people have all the relevant facts.

What is the SNP’s main concern, that an eventual deal with the EU proves to be acceptable to most Scots, or that the SNP risks losing an overall majority for independence in the next Holyrood elections?

Keith Howell
West Linton

We should have a referendum on the existence of Holyrood

The only referendum we Scots urgently need is one to have the wasteful nonentity of Holyrood abolished so all in Britain can once more prosper as a united nation where we share the same laws and regulations from one end of the country to the other as we once did. No need for the girning from those that are never happy no matter what you give them. I dream of a Britain at peace with itself – that cannot return until we have one government serving the whole of this little island nation.

Eric Davidson

Gordon Brown should stay out of this independence debate

Just when it was clear that Theresa May was standing up for Scots and standing up to Nicola Sturgeon, up pops Gordon Brown again. As if he didn’t do enough damage in the 2014 referendum by making promises that he was in no position to keep. Now he is at it again, proposing federalism. Does he really not know that you cannot appease nationalists? They have their one aim, secession from the UK, and nothing short of that will satisfy them. Federalism would be another salami slice (or even a few slices) towards the nationalists’ ambition of severing all ties between Scotland and the UK. I am sorry to see that Kezia Dugdale, after her strong performances in the last few days, has fallen in behind Brown.

We are facing an existential contest, between those who are desperate to leave the UK, because they hate it and everything about it (except the fiscal transfer), and those who wish to remain within the UK. That contest should have been settled in 2014, and would have been but for the duplicity of the nationalist leadership. It is saddening that Gordon Brown seems to have learned no lessons from that.

Jill Stephenson

The EU helps us implement life-saving legislation

Using your phone or tablet just got that bit smarter thanks to new European legislation preventing the use of conflict minerals. Mobile devices have transformed communication but their manufacture involves the use of metals that often come from parts of the world mired in bloody conflicts.

It was European Greens who both initiated and secured this legislation which will oblige firms involved in the extraction and trade of minerals such as tungsten, tantalum, tin and gold to ensure their supply chains are not linked to armed conflicts or human rights abuses in various parts of the world.

The passing of this legislation is a reminder of how important the elected European Parliament is. Originally the European Commission only wanted voluntary codes of conduct but MEPs rejected this. So thanks to the European Parliament, and the work of Green MEPs in particular, we now have binding rules to restrain some of the world’s most powerful companies from breaching human rights in some of the world’s poorest and most unstable countries.

Molly Scott Cato MEP

We must remain close to our European neighbours

Our continent is haunted by the spectre of nationalism, with its attendant demons: intolerance prejudice and xenophobia. Future historians will have the leisure to attribute blame for this horror, but while there is still time, surely, we must rouse ourselves to avert the impending calamity. Nationalism is not a universal good, but, at best, the least bad response of the oppressed to their overlords.

Few now would condemn the Irish republicans of the 1920s, or would deny the Jews of the 1940s a homeland. But I believe it is a sign of political maturity not weakness that my sense today of English nationalism is weak. Is it to be a “citizen of nowhere” to feel more affinity for Schiller and Voltaire than for Oswald Mosley? The post-war European project was an unprecedented and largely successful attempt to create a voluntary union of nations dedicated to the pursuit of peace, sustainable prosperity and justice, without institutional barriers between ethnic groups. Now we have glimpsed the path down which national assertion leads – a breakup of two unions against the wishes of the majority and to the impoverishment of all – it behoves our political leaders to do that which they know in their hearts to be right.

They must negotiate with our neighbours in good faith; reforming the excesses of both unions but not shying away from the necessary and painful task of persuading the people that to share in the greater prosperity, justice and peace of our region necessarily entails sharing just a little of our sovereignty.

William James

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