AS this incompetent, insular and small-minded Westminster Government lurches from crisis to crisis, the irony of its temporary reversal of migration/employment rules for foreign lorry drivers, simply to get itself out of a deep hole it has dug for itself could not be clearer. As ever, the phrase "too little, much too late," springs readily to mind.

This is a woeful regime that brings British politics and politicians into uncharted degrees of disrepute; consider the sheer audacity of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, rather than facing up to what even the dogs on the street know– that HGV driver shortages are primarily a consequence of Brexit, perversely claiming that leaving the EU has actually been "part of the fuel supply chain solution” and, get this, that the fuel crisis is primarily the fault of us, Joe Public.

Such claims can only be, given unequivocal evidence of depleted supermarket shelves and queues snaking back from filling stations, the figment of the over-fertile imagination of someone in denial, operating in an alternative reality, unwilling to accept the inconvenient truth.

Temporary10-week work permits for 5,000 additional HGV drivers, against a widely-acknowledged UK-wide shortfall approaching 100,000 reveals a great deal about a Government barely worthy of the name, in office but certainly not in control, applying sticking plasters to deep – often self-inflicted – wounds, asleep at the wheel on almost every key issue of its near two-year tenure to date.

Offered a 10-week contract to return to a country that very recently made it abundantly clear that Johnny Foreigner was unwelcome in "Global Britain", why on earth would a Bulgarian or Polish trucker be remotely interested in considering stepping-up to bail out a country that has so recently and obviously shown total disregard for them and the vital services they offer, simply to be sent packing once again come Christmas Eve?

Ignorance and arrogance, English exceptionalism at work, yet again; whatever the complexities, uncertainties and risks associated with Scottish independence, surely it could not conceivably be as inept, disreputable and contemptible as what’s currently on offer down Westminster way?

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.


GERRY Seenan (Letters, September 28) is correct: Brexit has played a significant factor in UK fuel and food shortages that are not experienced in mainland Europe and contributed hugely to staff shortages in our care homes (which is causing bed blocking in hospitals), our hospitality sector as well as to the lack of lorry drivers and agricultural workers.

But what can voters in Scotland do to change this situation? Labour backed the Brexit deal and now under Sir Keir Starmer it has given up on freedom of movement or returning to the single market far less rejoining the EU.

Labour hasn’t moved on from Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British workers” or its “Controls on Immigration” mugs yet Anas Sarwar has the nerve to claim that the SNP would not be a progressive ally ("Sarwar vows to build a campaign of unity and a positive vision for Scotland", The Herald, September 28).

Even if Labour won back every seat back from the SNP the Tories would still have a huge majority, which will notionally increase to 90 when the new boundary changes come into force, and as Sir Keir isn’t well ahead in the opinion polls while we suffer from the worst Tory Government in living memory then Labour has no chance of forming a government for at least 10 years.

Labour’s ambition for Scotland is to keep asking the Scottish Government, which has very limited fiscal powers, to mitigate Tory policies rather than campaigning for an independent progressive Scotland in Europe. With our vast natural resources there is no reason why we can’t match Denmark’s standard of living rather than being shackled to the most unequal country in Western Europe.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.


ANDREW McKie’s article on petrol shortages ("I know who is to blame for petrol shortage – and it’s not Boris Johnson", The Herald, September 28) points out that the ultimate reason for this is panic buying by the public. However, he is happy to absolve Boris Johnson’s Government of any responsibility.

Despite an overall shortage of HGV drivers in Europe, the British shortage is compounded by two factors. The red tape involved in cross-Channel traffic has persuaded many self-employed Europeans that they would rather be paid for driving in Europe than sit at their own expense in a Channel port. The second factor is the fall in the value of the pound post-Brexit which makes British salaries less attractive to Europeans.

Both of these factors can be blamed on Brexit, particularly on a hard Brexit.

Sam Craig, Glasgow.


IT is now indeed the case that the folly of our withdrawal from the European Union is becoming more apparent on a daily basis. What is puzzling, however, is that so many of your correspondents cannot – or will not – see that the dangers of leaving the UK are even greater than those of leaving the EU.

In both cases "Project Fear" is rather "Project Fact". It is unbelievable that nationalists from Nicola Sturgeon down are so unwilling to learn from the mistakes of Brexit. In fact, they seem very keen to compound one act of national self-harm with an even greater one.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


THE Joseph Rowntree Foundation has told the SNP administration that it does not use fully the powers it has to reduce unacceptably high levels of inequality in the Scotland ("Warning SNP ministers ‘not using tax powers fully’ to lift Scots out of poverty", The Herald, September 28).

Professor James Mitchell of Edinburgh University has already explained that Scotland has sufficient powers to make differences in this area, by enacting measures to reduce poverty. The SNP, of course, blames Her Majesty’s Government for poverty and inequality in Scotland; it is, after all, always someone else’s fault, in the nationalist view. Prof Mitchell scotches the claim that the Scottish administration does not have the powers to do make a real difference, and says it should not blame others but take action itself. The SNP he says, "talks the talk but does not walk the walk". It’s always the same, isn’t it?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


DR Philip Gaskell (Letters, September 23) makes a very important point in highlighting that there are cons as well as pros to breast screening and that women should consider all the facts before deciding whether to proceed. I was in the fortunate position of being able to both understand the facts and make an informed decision not to participate, with the wonderful safeguard that I could always change my mind.

In the 1980s I worked in the Scottish Cancer Trials Office entering data for the breast screening pilot. Although I didn’t have a medical background, working in that environment meant that I picked up some helpful and valuable information. For example, I came to understand that there is a list of risk factors which could be used to identify if someone were at high or low risk of developing breast cancer. I was greatly cheered to realise I fell into the very low risk category.

Then I also came to understand that the screening programme was discovering more patients with cancer than the researchers had expected to find, suggesting that some of the cancers they found would not have gone on to cause problems – the individual’s body would have sorted the problem without outside intervention. However, as doctors could not know which cancers would/would not go on to cause problems, all identified cancers had to be treated, meaning some women were treated unnecessarily. When I added this information to my low risk then my decision not to undergo breast screening is easy to understand.

With the Covid vaccine we are all coming to understand that all procedures come with risks, and it is important to weigh up the impact of those risks on individuals. So it is with breast screening. For some the risks are so high that screening is imperative despite any risks arising from the screening process, but for others the initial risk is so slight it is best not to be screened.

Obviously some women are so anxious that not being screened is not an option because anxiety itself is a risk of ill health, but for those who are able and willing to deal with risks, then having the information to make an informed choice is important. Please heed Dr Gaskell.

Judith Gillespie, Edinburgh.

Read more: The stupidity of Brexit is truly coming home to roost