BRITAIN did not join the EU in 1973; she joined the Common Market of the EEC. Since then there has been a steady politicisation of what became the European Project of which the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 and the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 marked turning points from economics to politics, the creation of the EU, and the march towards "a country called Europe".

The deal between the EU and the UK is a good deal because it has reset Britain's relationship with Brussels back to the Common Market. The wheel has come full circle. It is the best of both worlds because it means that the UK is free of laws and regulations imposed by a foreign power constraining economic, social and foreign policy, while at the same time allowing trade free of tariffs without paying £12 billion a year for the privilege.

Of course there have been compromises. That is only to be expected in such a wide-ranging deal. Fishing is a case in point. The French and other EU coastal states refused to accept being shut out overnight of waters they have fished for 40 years.

According to Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, the deal will be "a disaster for Scotland". That isn't the view of the Centre for Economic and Business Research, which reports that the UK will outstrip all EU economies in growth and become 23 per cent larger than France by 2035.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


WHEN one considers that Labour under the wobbling leadership of Sir Keir Starmer decided to back the Tory deal even before reading the small print and the myriad of implications arising from it, one wonders how Labour in Scotland can now survive.

Labour is now a Tory clone. It is ironically following the red wall areas into Torydom.

What is revealing day by day are the many personal benefits individuals had from EU membership which are either gone or heavily restricted by this deal. The Brexiters, who included Labour members and MPs, chanted about "taking back control". What has happened is that the elite have taken back control and the ordinary citizen is now restricted, even penned in. That will become more apparent as the months pass.

Restrictions on time you can spend in the EU now that one is a "third country". Limits on personal goods one can bring back through customs from the EU. VAT will now have to be paid on some goods. Ordering from the EU online will be subject to restrictions. Ironically, posting goods or presents to friends in Northern Ireland will need customs forms filled out detailing weight.

Labour is deeply implicated in this act now. Scotland is no longer Better Together hemmed in in this Union. A new curtain is being raised to restrict and deprive the population from benefits which will stop abruptly on December 31 at 11pm European time.

John Edgar, Kilmaurs.

*THE SNP likes to say that it represents the whole of Scotland. The Scottish Government has adverts with "we are Scotland" as the tagline. Of course, this isn't true. If it were, then about one-third of its MPs would vote for the Brexit trade deal. This would much better reflect the actual Scotland it claims to represent.

David Bone, Girvan.


MICHAEL Gove asserts that the UK market, not the EU, is what is most important to Scotland, and of course trade benefits work both ways. Perhaps Mr Gove is thinking of Canada, which sends nearly 80% of its exports to one destination, the United States, and is still a highly successful independent country. That autonomous interaction is what Scotland must aim for, not as a powerless entity at the “wrong” end of the UK.

A study for the Economic and Social Research Council (reported by the BBC) found that independence, and a loss of trading integration, would result in about a 0.1% reduction in “British” trade each year, but would also mean that trade between Scotland and the rest of the world would increase. I think we could live with that, preferably as a member of EFTA and trading through the EEA into the EU Single Market. That would be the best of all worlds, to borrow a phrase, and should allow trade with rUK to continue without impediment or tariffs.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


DUNCAN Sooman (Letters, December 29) finds it difficult to understand why independence-minded Scots “will not be governed by Westminster” but “desperately want to be governed by Brussels". Perhaps I can enlighten him.

As Brexit has shown, a sovereign nation decides its own future. What Scotland is “desperate” for, is to make its own independent decisions, in Scotland’s best interests. An independent Scotland would decide, at the time, what was in its best interests. If that was rejoining the EU, then the Scottish-elected government would endeavour to make that a reality. If it were not, we would decide, as an independent nation, to pursue another destiny.

It’s not that difficult really – all we want is to decide for ourselves, rather than have what suits England foisted upon us.

John McCallum, Glasgow G41.

* DUNCAN Sooman asked "why be governed by Brussels"? As part of the UK Scotland has to accept Westminster's decisions. In the EU partnership every nation, large or small, has a veto.

Colin Campbell, Kilbarchan.


LAWRENCE Wade (Letters, December 29) should be reminded that MPs of all parties, including members of the Tory right-wing ERG Group, voted against the Theresa May proposal. He should also remember that Scotland overwhelmingly voted against any type of Brexit. I have faith that the SNP group of MPs sent to Westminster will always vote in the best interests of the people of Scotland. It's called democracy.

Alec Oattes, Ayr.


IAN Lakin (Letters, December 26) seems to have a very poor grasp of the reality of both the value of the UK economy and of the basics of trade.

As so many do, he says that The UK is the “fifth-largest economy”, without recognising that if that is true, it became true while we were in the EU. There is no guarantee that it will still be true outside the EU, as we have left behind the multitude of existing excellent trade deals that we had around the world, made through the EU for us, and will have to renegotiate each one individually, before we again receive the benefit of them to our economy. So the UK is likely to be far from being “the fifth-largest economy” for however long that takes.

As to Scotland being “up the creek without a paddle” if we lose our massive export market in rUK, he is looking at this question the wrong way round. We export to England, as in any inter-state trading situation, that of which we have an abundance beyond our own needs and they have a shortage. The situation of Ireland, which had about 80 per cent of its trade with the UK before independence, and now is surviving extremely well with only around 11%, is a clear example.

It is worth noting too that Ireland has reached this point while within the EU, due to the range of markets that this membership has opened up. Why therefore, would Scotland be any different? After independence, would England suddenly no longer need what we are able to send, and where else could they source so much at the drop of a hat, with all those EU deals to renegotiate?

Scotland would not be the partner to force the breaking of this link, and for England to do so, would be a massive act of self-harm. But then, we have just discovered that such self-harm does not seem to deter English nationalists.

P Davidson, Falkirk.


BREXIT is indeed an act of economic self-harm ("Brexit deal “could cost Scots economy £9bn over decade”, The Herald, December 26). It is puzzling that anyone would vote for such damage to the economy even for the return of the control of some mythical levers. But the publication of this estimate by the Scottish Government begs the question: if it can produce this estimate of the impact of Brexit, what is stopping the production of a similar prediction of the economic effects that would follow if we voted for independence?

We know from GERS that Scottish independence would result in an immediate £15 billion cut to the budget of the Scottish Government and from the SNP's Sustainable Growth Commission that there would be a short and medium decline in economic growth, even greater than Brexit will bring. And we know that Scotland conducts much more business within the UK than with the EU. It is likely that the SNP already has its own estimates of the economic damage that independence would cause. If it does, it is unlikely that it would let them become public, but I would assume there were Government calculations done at the time of the 2014 referendum. If the Scottish Government can turn out estimates on Brexit within days of the deal being signed surely it can, building on what is already known in public and in private, produce authoritative estimates on independence, an idea that has been around for a century and, on the existing evidence, is likely to be even more economically damaging than Brexit?

Alex Gallagher, Labour councillor, Largs.