THE twists and turns of Brexit continue to amaze, exasperate and even entertain us all; who can keep up with all of the sub-plots and back room intrigues?

Amid all this there has been a quiet shifting of focus within the SNP as leadership hopefuls consider their positions.

Front and centre, of course, is Joanna Cherry who is seeking to frustrate the Prime Minister's plans with the assistance of the Scottish courts.

At the SNP's Aberdeen conference Derek Mackay set out his stall for the leader's post giving a speech full of vim and vigour such as you would expect from a "leader in waiting". By contrast, the current leader's seemed a bit like last year's heated up and served without much enthusiasm.

Ian Blackford is caught up trying to manoeuvre the debates in Westminster and seems to be somewhat eclipsed by Ms Cherry at the moment.

Why would the SNP risk a leadership battle when the prize of an independence referendum might be so close?

Nicola Sturgeon has steered the SNP into setting a window of dates when she insists Scotland must have an independence referendum. Later events have undermined the wisdom of these dates even as they have increased the chance of achieving the prize.

To win a referendum this time next year the SNP would have to switch from talking about how bad Brexit is and will be and start talking about what would change under independence.

Those who would be persuaded by rhetoric, anti-Tory, anti-Boris sentiment have already been persuaded. Those whose homes, jobs, benefits, health or welfare services have been hurt by Brexit will not want to risk things getting worse – they will want detail and plans. The SNP cannot provide a case for Scotland leaving the UK.

This is not down to the competence or skills of the SNP but down to the simple fact that the whole UK economy will be in the midst of a huge change. There wold be no stable baseline to start from because so much will be dependent on negotiations taking place or deals being finalised.

Campaigning at that time for Scotland to leave the UK would be an uphill battle with the very real chance of severe economic upheaval should they succeed.

Ms Sturgeon has used up her "resets" for the timetable to independence. The SNP membership and the wider Yes movement are already frustrated by her prevarication. The only way out of this dilemma is for the SNP to replace Ms Sturgeon with a new leader who can clear the decks and build anew.

Michael Kent, Giffnock.

DAVID J Crawford's letter (October 22) brought a smile to my face. The SNP immediately ignored the democratic will of the Scottish people in 2014 despite its "assurances" at the time. Ever since, it has constantly pursued independence to the detriment of effective government. He also states separatists are in the majority. Where? In his own head presumably.

Jim Mitchell, Carluke.

WHEN Boris Johnson said in the House of Commons that the Scottish Parliament has no say on Brexit issues, despite the fact that legislative consent is required in respect of devolved issues, it sums up the UK Establishment’s lack of respect for Scotland.

Far from Brexit being a piece of cake compared to independence negotiations, any future divorce talks between the UK and an independent Scotland would focus on very different set of issues than Brexit as there would be no equivalent to the Northern Irish backstop issue and the continuation of the Common Travel Area (CTA) with Ireland under the Brexit deal suggests that would also continue in the case of an independent Scotland.

Beginning with the United States, a total of 63 countries have left London rule and only three have ever voted to stay: Northern Ireland in 1973, Bermuda in 1995 and Scotland in 2014. None of those who left Westminster rule, including Malta, which has more say over Brexit than Scotland, has ever asked to return or regretted leaving and most have prospered, as do all the small self-governing nations in western Europe.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh EH11.

I WAS a little surprised to read that there was consideration given to recalling the Scottish Parliament from its autumn recess to discuss the Brexit crisis ("Recalling Holyrood will fuel demands for independence", The Herald, October 23).

I didn’t realise they were on holiday considering they had just returned from their summer holidays in September. They managed a mere five weeks before they felt the need of another break.

By Jove, they were up in arms about Westminster proroguing but they don’t need to bother with that; there is always another holiday round the corner.

Considering the state of education, the NHS, and the economy, not to mention Brexit, you would think 16 weeks' annual vacation is grossly excessive, especially when you consider that most normal folk have to do with four or five weeks.

I keep reading about politicians needing more respect. Well, how about starting by cutting back on holidays and try working a bit harder?

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.

Read more: Recalling Holyrood will fuel demands for Scottish independence