LIKE Ruth Marr and GR Weir (Letters, July 16), I noticed Peter Russell’s most recent contribution to your Letters Pages, and agree with every word they have written, but I feel they have missed an important point.

Supporters of the Union such as Mr Russell would very much like to fight another referendum on the same ground as the last one. For one thing, they won, but another reason is that Project Fear can be dragged out, dusted down and given another outing. By focusing on, for instance, the rating that a Scottish currency might be given, which being in the future is uncertain, Mr Russell can respond to Ruth Marr’s suggestion of a triple A rating with the trademark contempt of Project Fear

There are few certainties about the future, but I am confident Mr Russell would prefer that the UK leaving the EU could be ignored. During the 2014 Scottish referendum, the Yes side’s suggestion that the UK could leave the EU was subjected to ridicule, though it has of course come to pass and a number of consequences follow.

First it creates the possibility of undermining devolution. You report that legislation going through Westminster will impose a “mutual recognition” obligation on the devolved nations, which sounds extremely bland ("SNP accuses PM of ‘power grab’ despite his pledge to Holyrood", The Herald, July 16). However, it would mean if England adopted food standards allowing the sale of chlorinated chicken, or GM food, or beef stuffed with hormones, then Scotland would be unable to resist this being sold in our supermarkets, as the Scottish Government would be obliged, by the “mutual recognition” obligation, to recognise these lower standards.

Of course, would England do this? Forecasts of a trade deal with America were described in 2014 as hysterical, but consider American trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer’s statement that the US would “push off” a trade deal till the UK Government accepted US demands on food standards, which allow chlorinate chicken, GM crops and beef on hormones. The American Ambassador to the UK told the Andrew Marr programme that the NHS would have to be “on the table”, indeed “all things that are traded”.

Thus rather than fighting another referendum on the a uncertainties of the future, it is important the contemporary certainties of a recentralised UK in thrall to the US are the primary focus.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

IN all the stushie about whether the Westminster White Paper proposals for an internal market constitute a power grab from the devolved governments, particularly Scotland, some simple questions can provide the answer.

Have these powers been exercised for the last 20 years by the devolved Holyrood Government? Answer, yes. Have the differences caused by the exercise of these powers hindered the internal market with the rest of the UK? No. So there is no reasonable, necessary justification for changing the situation.

Finally, and most importantly, the Act setting up devolution states that any powers not specified as reserved are therefore devolved. Powers in the areas now covered by these proposals are not mentioned as reserved, and are therefore by law devolved. So there is no legal justification for changing the situation.

So, if no positive justification exists, what benefit does Westminster seek for rUK that it does not currently enjoy? Or is it just using Brexit as an excuse to weaken Holyrood, on the way to disbanding it eventually, on grounds that it serves little purpose, when Westminster does everything of importance for us anyway?

L McGregor, Falkirk.

THANKS are due to your correspondents Ruth Marr and GR Weir for highlighting the degree to which the Scottish nationalist cause is dependent on contrived grievances and wilful misrepresentations. To deal with Ms Marr's case, the order in question which redrew the boundary between Scottish and English waters was not intended to be an international border, but a border between the jurisdiction of UK Government and that of the new Scottish Executive. As was made clear at the time, the boundary is therefore irrelevant to the governance of oil and gas which is a reserved power. Moreover, the Scottish Government is free to choose (or change at any time) the border used for geographic allocation of oil between Scotland and England. This is simply an issue invented by nationalists to get excitable people hot under the collar.

In Mr Weir's case, I happen to agree that independence would require a negotiation regarding the allocation of historic debt. This may indeed be based on population share, although there is also a reasonable case that says that this should be weighted to take account of historic higher public expenditure in Scotland under Barnett and its predecessor the Goschen Formula. But this is not what many of Mr Weir's fellow nationalists contend. Their wilful misrepresentation is that an independent Scotland would start life completely debt-free, which is a position that could only be arrived at if it were to declare UDI. This would be an event no sensible person would contemplate, and I am sure that Mr Weir is sensible.

So Ms Marr and Mr Weir should simmer down, as maybe we all should. In recent days, Nicola Sturgeon has very sensibly declared that she will not be addressing the question of independence until the public health and economic effects of Covid-19 have been resolved. As these are likely to continue for many years and perhaps decades, independence appears to be off the table for the foreseeable future.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow G13.

YOU report today that Tory MP John Lamont has alleged there’s a connection between the SNP and the handful of protesters who staged an anti-English protest at the border ("Tory MP claims ‘racists’ inspired by SNP", the Herald, July 16). That’s just silly.

When I worked for British Airways, I regularly used to find in my work mail-drop anti-Scottish notes from colleagues. A typical example read: “Come separation, will all Jocks F. off to that welfare state (paid for by English middle classes)?” At least one of the authors was a 747 jumbo-jet captain; which just goes to show there are a few idiots in all walks of life, and earning £200,000 a year doesn’t make you a nice person.

For most of its supporters, the SNP isn’t a nationalist party; in fact, it’s very much internationalist. I joined the SNP from Labour, having recognised that Westminster has failed miserably to produce the more equal society I’d like to live in. I can’t be sure a self-governing Scotland would be significantly better, but we now have clear evidence that, faced with the biggest public health crisis for generations, the Scottish government at Holyrood has performed miles better than Westminster.

Instead of indulging in foolish jibes centred on the behaviour of a tiny number of individuals, Mr Lamont might be better trying to explain why we should continue with a system that has failed to deliver for the people of Scotland. And I hope he won’t resort to the tired old trope about Scotland needing a huge subsidy from the rest of the UK to stay afloat. Given that Scotland has some of the world’s best universities and huge intellectual capital, it should be a wealthy country; if it isn’t, then something has gone badly wrong with the way things have been run for many years and it’s time for a change of management.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

RATHER than trying to reassure her doubters with presumably her spin doctor’s rhetoric – "not an anti-English bone in my body’’ – the First Minister should try another method.

The best solution would be to come down like a ton of bricks on those we see all too often on TV and on social media committing acts and speaking and writing in a way that can only be described as blatantly anti-English. Try substituting "Black’’ for English. A few expulsions from her party would tend to concentrate minds.

Actions, after all, speak louder than any words.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh EH6.

WHEN one of your own economic advisers criticises the business acumen of SNP politicians, it really should be a wake-up call. Nicola Sturgeon and her MSPs should be spending some time listening to Jim McColl, an experienced businessman of many years who is warning that Scotland could lose half of all small and medium-sized enterprises if they are not helped to survive ("Sturgeon’s economy adviser warns SNP lacks business sense", The Herald, July 16). The First Minister, however, claims not to have seen his comments. Is this more evidence that Ms Sturgeon finds it impossible to take any advice from those who don’t say what she wants to hear?

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

WITH reference to Ian McConnell’s Called to Account article ("Whether Francois sees value of EU is neither here nor there", The Herald, July 15), do the letter penned by Mark Francois to Michel Barnier and the photograph of the said Mr Francois not provide the best rationale to vote for Scottish independence?

Sums up English exceptionalism to a tee. And what lies beneath and has significant control over the UK Cabinet.

Willie Towers, Alford.

OH dear, Nicola Sturgeon wore a tartan face mask. This must have been a deliberate choice, says Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, July 13). Well, I suppose so. Apparently, according to Dr. Edwards, we should all be wearing "neutral, nondescript patterns" and God help us if our mask looks as if it might be "custom made" (what does this mean?).

I fear for Dr Edwards after today’s (July 15) photo of Jackson Carlaw wearing…. a tartan face mask (which looked as custom made as Nicola Sturgeon’s). What hope is there for our society when politicians deliberately opt not to wear neutral, nondescript patterned face masks? Thereby shall we know their politics.

Having seen but one photo of Ms Sturgeon wearing this tartan party identifier, I cannot say that I feel "constantly assailed" by such, as Dr Edwards asserts, but perhaps I just have a thick skin. I think the obvious question now must be put to Mr Carlaw by Dr Edwards. Is he still true blue, or a Tartan Tory? He was anti-Brexit at one time and did not support Boris Johnson in the leadership election, so he is obviously not a man who is afraid to change his mind.

I think I might go out and buy a tartan face mask, just to keep people guessing.

Ken MacVicar, Lesmahagow.

SHOULD the independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic consider whether to suspend devolved government during times of national emergency? This would avoid mixed messages and duplication of effort, and encourage our elected representatives to work together for the good of all.

Scott Simpson, Glasgow G12.