THE stupidity of Brexit has begun to show itself in the different types of shortages we are now experiencing.

The most immediate of these is at the pumps, where the shortage of HGV drivers has affected fuel deliveries. The NHS is under-resourced and cannot recruit sufficient skilled staff to cope with existing backlogs, let alone the oncoming challenge of winter illnesses exacerbated by Covid. Supermarket shelves have been showing many signs of shortages affecting a variety of products for months.

All of this was predicted by those who gave some thought to the potential effects of Brexit, but their views were dismissed as scaremongering by those with another agenda – that of extracting the UK from its ties to the EU because of an outdated and misguided notion of "sovereignty". Their ill-considered focus was on exaggerating the extent to which "foreigners" were dictating our way of life, as a result of our being part of an extended (and prosperous) trading bloc. The inevitable compromises that every member country had to accept for the benefit of everyone were painted as egregious violations of our way of life.

The anti-Europe faction effectively managed to gull a majority of the electorate into believing that we were less British because of the EU. By extension this implied that Germans were less German, and the French were less French by belonging to the EU. Utter nonsense of course, but it held sway in the end, and we are now suffering the consequences of this disastrous decision.

It is an interesting insight into the psychology of group-think in the population that a campaign without a single economic fact to support the rhetoric of prosperity outside the EU could persuade a majority to fall in line and vote to take us out of the EU.

Nor, since Brexit, have we seen any benefit to GNP in hard currency from outside the EU; nor indeed any sign of the promised queue of countries ready to buy our goods and services. The US, our most prized potential trading partner outside the EU, has just relegated us to the end of the queue. The much-heralded, but essentially trifling, trade deals we have managed to establish are insignificant in terms of their contribution to our prosperity.

The humiliating reality is that in approaching Brexit, our UK politicians were out of their depth with respect to understanding the realities of the economic world, out of their depth in dealing with the EU, but very well versed in the practices of gulling the electorate into believing that they had their interests at heart. A compliant media, and institutions that are not fit for purpose ensured that the Brexit bandwagon was never properly scrutinised and we are now paying the price for that failure.

The question now is: does the UK now have the understanding and the political will get us out of the mess?

Gerry Seenan, Skelmorlie.

* WHY have petrol prices jumped? There is no shortage according to Boris Johnson. In North Ayrshire at the weekend it was 144.9p a litre. Remember Mr Johnson said we were heading for the sunny uplands. Did he just forget to mention that we would be walking?

George Smith, Clydebank.


GUY Stenhouse is thankful the Scottish Government doesn’t have the powers to address the current energy crisis, leaving control with Westminster ("Time for Scotland to roll out red carpet to nuclear", The Herald, September 27). That’s gone well. The Tories sold off our national energy companies to private corporations, sacrificing energy security and price stability on the altar of profit for a few. They reduced then eliminated taxes on oil and gas companies, foregoing nearly £400 billion in revenues, while Norway collected huge tax revenues which it’s using to ensure its people welfare.

Then there’s Brexit. When it left the EU energy market believing it could source cheaper energy outside, the UK made itself vulnerable to external shocks as it is no longer protected by the EU’s use of linked auctions to balance energy prices. The House of Lords warning in March that energy prices would rise because post-Brexit cross-border trade is less efficient fell on deaf ears.

These are the reasons the UK ranks last out of 16 western European countries on the proportion of homes able to afford adequate heat.

With just 8.4 per cent of the UK population, Scotland possesses 34% of the UK’s natural wealth including 95% of oil, 63% of gas, 26% of renewable energy generation and 90% of hydro power. Only the full powers of independence can prevent the UK’s ideologically-driven incompetence and greed from squandering more of our wealth.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.


MAY I throw my 85 kilos behind the calls from Eric Melvin and Doug Maughan (Letters, September 25) for an emergency budget by the Scottish Government and an increase of at least one penny on higher rates of income tax?

Although I can already hear the scrape of penknives sharpening quills by the usual suspects, and claims that there will be a mass desertion of higher rate taxpayers to England, there won't be. Like me, they will know that the much higher costs of living south of the Border and the inconvenience of moving will be far outweighed by the benefits of living in a more civilised society in Scotland.

It's time for the Scottish Government to be bold. Let's hope they take the opportunity of demonstrating our higher moral standards and get on with it.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


ANGELA Rayner has unwittingly offered a hostage to fortune with her use of the word "scum" to describe members of the governing party ("Rayner in defence of attack on ‘Tory scum’", The Herald, September 27). She will have to carry that albatross around her neck for some time to come whenever she faces public grillings in the media.

Had she made such a comment in the House of Commons, the Speaker would have demanded that she withdraw such an unparliamentary remark. Where the headlines should have concentrated on the meat of her message, that has been eclipsed by the screaming of the word "scum" in the various bulletins. Not only that, but all her colleagues will now be pestered in interviews about their thoughts on her reckless comment.

Ms Rayner is undoubtedly a strong and vibrant campaigner for her party with plenty of support behind her, but she may well have seriously dented her prospects of becoming an electable future Labour leader through this careless comment.

Any politician worth their salt must acknowledge that political opponents have their principles, even if they are diametrically contrary to the principles espoused by that politician's party.

Clearly what she uttered at that fringe meeting would have been warmly welcomed by the zealots who cannot separate the persons – who deserve the dignity of human respect – from the policies they advocate, which emphasise the importance of the individual to the exclusion of the communitarian spirit.

She must rise above the pettiness and the hatred embodied in that remark if she wants her party to regain its place as an electable force worthy of being the governing group in the UK.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


CLEARLY the campaign against making life a little easier for trans people is going to rumble on ("Teachers fear legal action over transgender pupil advice", The Herald, September 25). It will do until Scotland joins those nations which have reformed the process of legal recognition of a person's true sex.

We saw exactly the same fear tactics used by those who opposed making the lives of young (and not so young) LGBTI+ people more tolerable when the then Scottish Executive moved to abolish Section 28, the law banning the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools as a "pretended family relationship". People are naturally concerned when extreme fears are stirred up by those opposed to LGBTI+ human rights. With Section 28 the supposed fear was that teachers would expose tiny tots to sexually explicit material. Guess what: the fears that were stirred up proved baseless.

Now we have a scare that teachers will be sued if they get something wrong in the classroom or do not promote some radical agenda. We should be reassured that our teachers will behave professionally after the reform of the Gender Recognition Act just as they did after the repeal of Section 28. Those opposed to the rights and welfare of LGBTI+ young people will always try to stir up unfounded fears but let us hope that Scotland as a whole will prove to be more progressive and that the wellbeing of all pupils will be supported.

Brian Dempsey, Lecurer in Law, University of Dundee.

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