IT was depressing, but perhaps predictable, to read Alister Jack’s exaltation of Scotland’s exit from the EU under the terms of the Brexit Agreement ("Brexit deal finally moves the UK out of the EU's orbit", The Herald, December 30). As he composed his article, I wonder if the Secretary of State for Scotland realised the irony of his words which beautifully illustrate the democratic deficit inherent in Scotland’s current constitutional arrangements.

Despite voting Remain by a large majority, Brexit has been imposed on Scotland by the voters of England. Unionists will claim that it was a UK-wide vote or that London also voted Remain, but London is not an ancient European nation and Scotland is supposedly a partner in a "Union of equals". However, throughout the tortuous Brexit process, Scotland’s concerns have been ignored or dismissed by Mr Jack and his Tory colleagues at Westminster.

Indeed, Mr Jack’s own post as Scotland’s most senior politician in the UK Government is not predicated on Scottish votes. At the 2019 General Election in Scotland the Conservatives won only 25 per cent of the vote and six seats, thus, once again, it is Tory voters in England who effectively endorse the Scottish Secretary’s tenure.

Mr Jack, the politician who recently claimed there would not be a second independence referendum for 40 years, is clearly happy to inflict Brexit on Scotland, justifying this by stating that just over one million Scots voted to leave. Of course, he omits to mention the 1.6 million Scottish votes cast against Brexit in 2016.

I suspect Mr Jack and the Scottish Conservatives will reap the harvest of Brexit at the Holyrood elections in May. This will be the catalyst for Scotland eventually making its own choices and rejoining the EU as an independent country, rather than deferring to politicians and policies sustained by voters furth of Scotland.

Iain Gunn, Elgin.


MY understanding is that the Holyrood Parliament is a devolved institution and that its remit is devolved matters – education, health, justice, policing, transport, housing, and so on. Why then was Holyrood holding a debate and vote on the Brexit agreement, which is a reserved matter ("Blackford and SNP under fire as Brexit bill is passed by massive majority", The Herald, December 31)?

This is yet another example of how the SNP has distorted Holyrood’s purpose and function. It controls the Holyrood agenda and therefore avoids debates on the devolved issues where its competence is weak and where it should be held to account for its failures.

Why the Presiding Officer allows this misuse of the devolved parliament is a mystery. He has already allowed a debate and vote on the issue of another referendum – another reserved issue. When people voted for a devolved assembly, they were voting for local control of and competence in the matters that affect them most, like education, health and so on. Opinion polls confirm that a referendum or separatism is not high on their list of priorities. Yet repeatedly any discussion comes back – as last Wednesday’s did – to the constitution, which is reserved. If no-one else will or can bring the Holyrood Parliament back to its statutory purpose, then the sovereign Parliament at Westminster must.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh EH14.


ALLAN Sutherland (Letters, December 31), in quoting Sir Keir Starmer on a Westminster vote, appears not to have appreciated the difference between the votes in Westminster and Holyrood.

In Westminster the vote was to implement the deal or to reject the deal. A majority of MPs voted to accept the Brexit Bill since the alternative of leaving with no deal would have been a disaster. I can only assume that those MPs who voted against the bill and who were against leaving with no deal did so in the expectation that there would be an insufficient number of hardline "No Deal" Brexit-supporting MPs to defeat the bill and that by voting against the bill they would be recording a protest vote.

In Holyrood the vote had no impact on whether or not the UK left the EU with or without a deal. The Scottish Government (along with the Welsh and Northern Irish) was asked to indicate its consent to the bill. If a majority of hard line "No Deal" Brexiters had voted down the bill at Westminster then no amount of support at Holyrood could have prevented the UK departing the EU without a deal. Consequently at Holyrood the MSPs were indicating what they thought of the bill, and not whether or not it should become law. The response from Scottish Labour (and most other parties) is a quite clear thumbs-down to the proposals.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh EH3.


NORTH of the Border Boris Johnson is dismissed as a buffoon. Yet he won the 2016 referendum, the Tory leadership, renegotiated the “non-negotiable” EU Withdrawal Deal, gave Labour its worst defeat in a General Election since 1935 and pulled off a Brexmas trade deal. This so unhinged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that, in a fit of absence of mind, she ordered her troops to vote against the bill in the Commons – and presumably for “no deal”.

As she had sunk our best chance of a soft Brexit in the spring of 2019 – when the pro-European, One Nation Tory Ken Clarke’s option of staying in the customs union while leaving the EU’s political project was beaten by six votes, the SNP’s position is farcical. It was its greatest strategic blunder since 1979 when it voted with the Tories to bring down Jim Callaghan’s Labour Government and clear the way for its nemesis, Margaret Thatcher.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.


ANDY Maciver ("Brexit may not be the dagger to the Union the SNP hopes", The Herald, December 31) notes that Brexit will not cause "the sky to come tumbling down" tomorrow, or the day after, but he will not have long to wait for the sky to look considerably lower.

Brexit will hit Scotland harder than the rest of the UK, as we are a net exporter, and our companies will now carry additional costs to export to the EU, making them less competitive and cutting profits. The already hard-pressed working class in Scotland will suffer most. Above all, Brexit gives back the whip hand to the UK Government. No longer restrained by the EU, it will use it to aggressively roll back worker and environmental protections. In pursuit of a trade deal with the US, the Internal Market bill will be used to ignore Holyrood and open up the NHS to privatisation.

The one ray of hope is, with the last 16 opinion polls showing a majority support for independence, it looks like the people of Scotland have finally had enough. Taking the opinion polls into account, the number of Remainers who would vote No in a future referendum is not "vast" as Mr Maciver strangely claims, but more accurately described as "diminishing".

Jim Daly, Edinburgh EH10.

JOHN Dunlop (Letters, December 31) questions the democratic right of the SNP and the wider Yes movement to seek another Referendum on Scottish sovereignty. At the last UK General Election the Scottish people elected 48 SNP MPs, six Conservative, four Liberal Democrats and one Labour. QED. What part of the democratic process does he not understand?

Alec Oattes, Ayr.

I HAD to chuckle at Mhairi Black’s description of the Scotland Office as little more than a "Tory propaganda unit" ("SNP attacks rising costs of Scotland Office, branding it ‘zombie department’", The Herald, December 29).

Has she read the Scottish Government’s White Paper Scotland’s Future, which set out the case for independence in the lead-up to the 2014 referendum?

The expression involving pots and kettles come to mind.

Willie Towers, Alford.

SOME of your correspondents are urging Labour voters to go for Scottish independence. Over my dead body!

I am in my nineties and the happiest years of my life were the premierships of Attlee, Wilson and Callaghan (not that big disappointment, Tony Blair).

I loathe all opposition parties for splitting the opposition to the Tories. I want the Tories beaten not just here but in England too. If every anti-Tory from Land's End to John O'Groats votes Labour, we can do it.

I will vote Labour even if my candidate sprouts an extra head.

Moyna Gardner, Glasgow G12.

THE more I listen to the SNP, the more I'm convinced that William MacIlvanney was right when he said that the Scottish motto (nemo me impune lacessit / let no one provoke me with impunity / wha' daur meddle wi' me) should be changed to: aw, wait a minute, that's no' fair.

I'm an old man now, and if independence comes, I probably won't be alive to witness the full horrors of that decision, and thankfully my children live abroad because they see no future for their families in an independent Scotland.

At this time of year, I should say "and God bless us everyone". I think I should say "God help you all"

Tom Jarvie, East Kilbride.