A REFERENDUM has been refused for Scotland ("MacNeil: Let’s make 2021 election a referendum on independence", The Herald, January 15). However, the rules for the British Government agreeing to an Irish Border referendum in Northern Ireland are clearly set down. The 1998 Belfast Agreement between the UK and Irish governments states, at Annexe A, that the Northern Ireland Secretary "shall" hold a referendum on a united Ireland "if at any time it appears likely (to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) that a majority of those voting would express a wish (for a united Ireland)". (Note the word "shall"...)

The task for the SNP is clear: get the facts and figures on the case for independence into every Scottish household to raise the Yes support from the current 48 per cent to around 58 per cent. Once this is achieved, we can demand that Scots get equal referendum rights with the Northern Irish.

The Belfast Agreement (Schedule 1, Clause 3) also allows for a second referendum "(not) earlier than seven years after the holding of a previous poll..."

Councillor Tom Johnston (SNP, North Lanarkshire Council), Cumbernauld.

BORIS Johnson's letter to our First Minister must have sounded reasonable to him, and to many others.

Traditionally, couples married for life and come what may, but times have changed. Nowadays, people who are deeply unhappy in their marriage get a divorce. Sad though this may or may not be, it is a fact of modern life.

When we nodded at the "once in a generation" bit at the independence referendum, we were sincere, hoping that things would get better. Instead of which they have got very much worse, and not just for our country of Scotland.

Scotland wants to be in the EU. Who cares, says Mr Johnson. Scotland wants to have its opinion (on independence) evaluated again. Absolutely not, says Mr Johnson.

If this was a marriage breakdown being discussed, then divorce would be so plainly on the cards (so to speak) that only idiots would look at the intransigent spouse with any kind of sympathy.

R Godfrey, Perth.

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson is clinging to the "once in a generation" quote but in reminding the First Minister about words used by her and her predecessor, he should remember what his predecessor's predecessor, David Cameron, said in 2014, that "Scotland could lead the UK"; however, there was no talk of Scotland "leading the UK" after the EU referendum, although 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain within the EU.

At the independence referendum, Gordon Brown's Vow was signed by Mr Cameron, Nick Clegg, then leader of the Liberal Democrats and by the then Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband. Among other things, the Vow promised that the Scottish Parliament would be given a legal guarantee of its independence from Westminster; it soon became clear that the Vow wasn't worth the paper it was written on, and neither were the signatures.

At last month's General Election Nicola Sturgeon put a second independence referendum at the heart of her campaign and won an overwhelming victory of 48 out of Scotland's 59 Westminster seats. I can only imagine what Mr Cameron, and indeed Mr Johnson would have had to say if Europe had told the UK that it was not allowed to hold a referendum on membership of the EU. The message is pretty clear; the UK can leave the EU, but Scotland cannot leave the UK. Far from leading the UK or being a partner in the UK, Mr Johnson apparently believes that we are a prisoner in the UK.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

THE fury and confusion of the SNP at the refusal of the Prime Minister to transfer powers to hold referendums to Holyrood is predictable but misplaced.

In doing so, Scotland's UK Government is doing no more than upholding its mandate (gained only last month) within its reserved powers under the current devolution settlement. And the Nationalists appear to have forgotten that they signed up to the report of the Smith Commission, which did not recommend such a transfer of powers.

What is all the fuss about?

Peter A Russell, Glasgow G13.

FOLLOWING the recent General Election, we now have a democratically-elected Unionist Prime Minister leading a majority government, whether voters and politicians like it or not. What kind of response did our First Minister expect to her letter a mere 17 days before Brexit? They say timing is everything. I suspect our First Minister could have been a bit wiser with her timing in view to receiving the response she wished for – if the response she received was not actually what she wished for.

Laurence Wade, Ayr.

THE First Minister should acknowledge what she knows perfectly well, namely that sovereignty in Scotland is vested permanently in the people and not in the Scottish Parliament, regardless of how the seats there are temporarily apportioned.

William Durward, Bearsden.

Read more: Johnson tells Sturgeon to 'change the record'