RISHI Sunak’s proposed Northern Ireland trade deal ("Sunak: My new Brexit deal gives NI ‘unique position’", The Herald, March 1) undermines unionist claims of a hard border between Scotland and England in the event Scotland decides to join the single market or EFTA prior to full EU membership. There would be a soft border, particularly as England needs its large Scotland export market plus our vast oil, gas and renewable energy supplies.

The Irish trade deal is very similar to the Scottish Government’s “Scotland’s place in Europe” document published in 2016 which proposed a solution whereby Scotland, which voted to Remain in greater numbers than in Northern Ireland, could trade with the EU whilst still part of a Leave-voting UK. However, the UK Government dismissed it within two hours.

Despite Mr Sunak’s deal, Brexit remains a disaster for our economy. If Northern Ireland can have “the best of both worlds”, then so can Scotland. But we need independence first, as the London-based parties have no intention of getting back into Europe.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

The full effect of this deal

RISHI Sunak said Northern Ireland is in an unbelievably special position, a unique position in the entire world of having privileged access to both the EU single market and the UK home market. He went on to say “nobody else has that”.

Rather than rejoicing that “this has disarmed the main nationalist weaponry of recent years” I would remind Allan Sutherland, (Letters, March 1) that Scotland voted against Brexit. He has not quite thought through the effect of the Windsor Agreement here.

“In a day when you don’t come across any problems, you can be sure you are travelling along the wrong path.”
Alan Carmichael, Glasgow

• RISHI Sunak announced the chief benefit of his new deal is that Northern Ireland can trade with both the UK and Europe. Wow, to think it never had such trade links before...

Can’t wait for the next wondrous revelation.
TJ Dowds, Cumbernauld

It's time to accept Brexit

ANOTHER week, another column from the pen of the ray of sunshine that is Ian McConnell ("Don’t be fooled by Sunak’s talk – deal will not save UK from Brexit self-harm", The Herald, March 1).

Almost every piece written by him since the Brexit vote leaves readers in no doubt as to the disdain felt by him for those who voted for Brexit whom he seems to consider economic illiterates. I voted Remain but am a democrat unlike the SNP and, apparently, Mr McConnell.

Rishi Sunak has received almost universal praise for negotiating a vastly improved replacement for the Northern Ireland Protocol in respect of the free flow of goods between the mainland and the province and hopefully, the last part of the jigsaw will see the DUP fall into line so that effective government can return to Northern Ireland whilst at the same time safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement.

Time for Mr McConnell to accept that the Brexit boat has sailed, get over it and find a new cause wth which to keep us entertained.
James Martin, Bearsden

Scotland's EU options

PETER A Russell (Letters, February 28) suggests that, given Kate Forbes’ frankness about her personal religious views, she might do the same about “the true cost of independence, above all that we would be much poorer for the foreseeable future, as Scotland transitions from being a massive net beneficiary of UK membership to being a net contributor to the EU”.

It is most encouraging that even Peter Russell considers that an independent Scotland would be wealthy enough to join the ranks of net contributors to the EU budget (though you would never know this from his contributions to your Letters Pages).

In 2020 net contributors include not just the "usual suspects" of Germany and France, but also Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Ireland. I would be most pleased for an independent Scotland to be wealthy enough to join their ranks.

On the other hand, net beneficiaries included Poland, which in 2020 received, net, more from the EU budget than any other member state. According to none other than Sir Keir Starmer recently, Poland will overtake the UK economically by 2030.

Does Mr Russell consider that Scotland’s choice is to be an independent, net contributor like Denmark or Finland? Or a net beneficiary like Poland?

Moreover, as Alan Carmichael writes in his perceptive letter of the same date, if “independence is a religion, then I assume belief in the Union may also be regarded as such”. Independence or remaining in the Union are both in the future (though hopefully the former before 2030), and as such subject to uncertainty. As Peter Drucker wrote, “the only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”

Unionist ex-cathedra claims damning independence overlook that the card played so successfully in 2014, that Scotland should “Always Keep Ahold of Nurse [the stable Union], For Fear of Finding Something Worse” (Hilaire Belloc), no longer stands, particularly since Brexit.

There is little doubt that the challenges of transition from the UK to independence would be significant. However, the infallibility of forecasts of doom and disaster for independence are subject to just the same uncertainty as forecasts for the Union.
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton

Greens need to ditch SNP

THE Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for recycling bottles and other drinks containers really does confirm to me that we need to pay more attention to what Holyrood is doing in our names before its plans get too far developed.

My impression was that we already recycle a large proportion of such containers, and we all have an outlet for most of them outside our houses, which we already pay for with our council tax. Now, we have to pay 20p more for each bottle or can, and then go looking for a check point that will accept them, probably using petrol to do so.

Chances are we will have to wait in a queue while the people in front of us scan their barcodes one at a time. Apparently, every small business producing these cans and bottles needs a different bar code for items sold in Scotland to elsewhere, and some are already deciding to withdraw their products from Scottish shops.

On the political front, the SNP leadership contenders are all against it, but for some reason, they seemed to all be struck dumb and didn’t say anything about it before now.

Is it not time we admitted that this scheme is just rubbish and binned it? I feel sorry for Lorna Slater. She was given the green light by her SNP colleagues, but has now been hung out to dry, and no doubt we won't be hearing much more from her again.

The experimental SNP-Green coalition that wasn’t really a coalition at all has failed. Perhaps the Greens need to stop showing unconditional support to a party like the SNP, concentrate on environmental activism and forget about independence, which everyone can see is dead now anyway. The environment and our constitutional position are not linked in any way.
Victor Clements, Aberfeldy

Our humanity must be inclusive

THE tragedy off the coast of Italy ("Death toll in migrant boat tragedy now 63, with dozens still missing", The Herald, March 1)reminds me of the recent warning from António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, to the effect that as a consequence of global warming, an increase in the pace at which sea levels are rising threatens “a mass exodus of entire populations on a biblical scale” with “low-lying communities and entire countries disappearing for ever”.

I say to those who object even to the current comparatively modest influx of asylum seekers and refugees into the UK, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”.

These mass movements will place significant demands on our common humanity. We and other comparatively fortunate countries must be prepared to share our relative good fortune in relation to the impact of global warming, we being among the major contributors to the victims’ misfortune, theirs being minimal.

Some will rush again to remind me that “charity begins at home”. There is however no need to chose between tackling the unacceptable inequalities within our society and the welcoming of those from overseas seeking refuge amongst us. Our humanity must be inclusive, even at a cost, taking a lead from Pope Francis who prayed not only for “the missing and the other migrants who survived” but for “the rescuers and for those who give welcome” to the migrants.
John Milne, Uddingston

Read more letters: Sunak has paved the way for a rout of the SNP


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.