ON reading a flier promoting the local SNP candidate I note it indicated the intention to rejoin the EU after independence as the best way to recover from the pandemic and set Scotland on the road to economic recovery.

The SNP has been incapable of recognising the extraordinary success of the UK Government in its vaccine procurement to the benefit of the entire country, and yet fails to acknowledge that had we been reliant on the EU for purchasing the vaccines we would be in much greater continuing health crisis than we currently face.

As a former Remainer in the Brexit vote of 2016 I am certainly no longer inclined to vote in this way given the appalling behaviour of several of Europe’s leaders over their self-induced vaccine fiasco. I wonder how many other previous Scottish Remainers would be changing their vote if this were to be repeated.

The last couple of months has highlighted incompetence and ill-informed damaging statements from several EU leaders and must cast doubt on any merit from rejoining.

Nigel McMillan, Glasgow.


AN Institute for Government report on Scottish independence and EU membership contained some surprisingly good news for Scotland, noting that Scotland would be regarded as a relatively wealthy state which already met the compliance criteria. We would likely be welcomed as there was empathy towards Scotland. Negotiations could be completed within two years of independence but the process of leaving the UK might take several years whilst the institutions to become a sovereign state were built.

The EU could allow opt-out from the Schengen zone, meaning that the Common Travel Area across the islands of Great Britain and Ireland could remain intact and passport controls avoided.

Scotland need not join the euro either, only agree "in principle" to join and do what other member states such as Sweden and Denmark have done and delay adoption of the euro for many years.

Trade with England and Wales would be governed by Britain’s Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) with the EU. However, trade relations are not static. The EU makes fresh regulations at a fast pace and under the TCA Britain will have to adapt. It’s possible that in the intervening time the UK will have made a number of further bilateral agreements with the EU similar to the arrangements with Switzerland to ease the current border problems over customs paperwork. The TCA will go through a number of modifications in the years ahead.

But Scotland may not necessarily decide to join the EU but EFTA. Plus, trade patterns are not static. It is likely that after rejoining the EU or EFTA the bulk of Scottish exports will shift to the EU if trade with England remains mired in red tape, and English businesses will relocate to Scotland rather than Europe in order to trade more freely with the EU.

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh.


IN their televised debate, our leaders spoke of independence ("Pressure on Sturgeon over Indyref2 as leaders clash", The Herald, March 31). They must get real. For the foreseeable future, independence is not an option.

Even before Covid, it would have been extremely difficult. In 2018 the SNP's Growth Commission said that it would take five to 10 years of austerity to overcome our dependence on the UK. In 2019/20, Scottish Government figures show we spent 12 per cent more per head than the UK, but paid 2.5% less tax.

Covid makes independence unthinkable. We await Scottish Government figures for 2020/21, but the Institute of Fiscal Studies used OBR figures to calculate a deficit of 26-28%, falling to 11% by 2024/25. We have no chance of borrowing on that scale. We must rely on the UK and the Bank of England, as in the Royal Bank crash in 2008. That rules out EU admission.

Before we have another independence referendum, a Royal Commission on the Constitution should report to the people on a detailed proposal. We must never again vote blind as we did on Brexit. The commission should go on to recommend more devolution throughout the UK, whether regional or federal, and reform of the Lords and the electoral system.

That will take time. The overwhelming priority is recovery from Covid. Holyrood already has all the powers it needs. In May, let’s elect MSPs who will concentrate on the job with competence, dedication, creativity, decency, truth and humanity.

David Gracie, Edinburgh.


I WAS struck by research from the London School of Economics which contrasts Scottish independence from the rest of the UK with the Slovak Republic and Czech Republic’s "Velvet Divorce" of 1993.

In the years post-independence, it is apparent that the Czech Republic substituted its exports and imports away from the Slovak Republic; the Slovak Republic did the same, substituting its exports and imports away from the Czech Republic, both in favour of Germany.

For the economically smaller state, the Slovak Republic quite quickly substituted away from what was its much larger, more significant, export partner to what was a much smaller partner. That is to say, the Slovak Republic’s exports to Germany were nearly three times less than to the Czech Republic in 1993, but as of 2019, the Slovak Republic’s exports to Germany were nearly two times greater than to the Czech Republic.

While the majority of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK, exports to the EU grew by an average of four per cent per year over the last five years, and since 2010, growth to the EU outpaced growth to the rest of the world and the rest of the UK by a significant margin. Scotland is not only becoming more economically integrated with the EU but seemingly also with non-EU partners.

Our historic economic performance has been strong, which bodes well for a small, open and independent Scotland. With modest population growth alongside good GDP growth, supported by stable participation in international trade, it seems Scotland is in a far better initial condition than either the Czech or Slovak republics, and can therefore expect similar (if not better) post-independence outcomes.

Considering Scotland has all the necessary machinery in place to become an independent state, there are no obvious reasons why Scotland would not succeed economically if it were to become so.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.


DENIS Bruce (Letters, April 1) categorises the Scottish education system as having "plummeted" under the SNP. This is a gross misinterpretation of the facts. The four nations of the UK perform at a very similar level, that is, slightly better than the OECD average. That is not to say that everything in the garden is rosy, but to characterise it as Mr Bruce does is very wide of the truth.

I agree though on the benefits of delaying formal education for young children until the age of six or seven, as per the LibDem policy. I think only Malta sits alongside the UK in having a starting age of five, with other nations in Europe starting at six or seven. Starting education at such a young age, to the detriment of their learning, is determined by the desire of UK governments, and society in general, to get parents back to work as soon as possible.

Willie Rennie is right about this but then I suppose he is, statistically at least, likely to be right about something.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


I FIRST thought the letter from Ruth Marr (April 1) was part of the April Fool tradition.

To classify the First Minister's "straight and honest approach" to her politics is also to believe in the much-admired spaghetti tree spoof broadcast by the BBC on April 1, 1957. I did not think it possible then, nor do I think it possible in 2021.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.


IT is a basic tenet of democracy that all political parties should be heard so that voters are fully informed and in a position to make their decision on election day.

Yet we have a new political party in Scotland, All for Unity, and many of our newspapers and television are ignoring it.

All for Unity’s founder is the internationally-known ex-MP George Galloway. The party is fielding a full complement of 56 candidates across Scotland in the regional vote. The party’s candidates have an unrivalled, wide range of life and work experience including agriculture, business, e-commerce, education, finance, IT, law, manufacturing, medicine, military, philosophy, police, politics and telecommunications. The party has much to offer Scotland.

Why the news blackout?

Dr Bruce Halliday, South of Scotland Candidate for All for Unity, Dumfries.

Read more: The BBC is doing the job of the unionist parties for them