YOUR lead story (“Mundell: SNP gag on Scots EU powers”, December 13) was based on a false claim that the Scottish Government is blocking publication of a list of EU powers “to be returned north of the Border after Brexit”.

At no time in the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee EU Negotiation on Tuesday did the David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, or any other UK Government minister or official suggest the publication of a list of powers. Despite claims during, and after, the EU referendum that a raft of new powers, such as over immigration, would be coming to Holyrood, none is being proposed for further devolution by the UK Government.

So the dispute between the Scottish and Welsh governments on the one hand and the UK Government on the other is about what happens to already devolved powers. These powers are exercised subject to EU law. If the UK leaves the EU, it should be axiomatic that, as they are devolved, it will be up to the Scottish Parliament to decide how they should be exercised.

However, as things stand, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill means that Westminster will take control of every single one of these and it will be up to Westminster to decide which to hold on to or, in the language of the UK Government, which ones to “release”.

As we have said repeatedly, it may well make sense for UK-wide arrangements or “frameworks” to be put in place covering some of these areas. But that does not require any powers to be “re-reserved” to Westminster. These frameworks must be established on the basis of agreement and respect for the devolved settlement, not imposed by Westminster diktat.

That is why the Scottish Government is clear that it cannot recommend MSPs give their consent to this bill unless it is amended to ensure all devolved powers remain with Holyrood.

The Scottish Government has previously published a list of 111 devolved policy areas the UK Government said “intersected” with EU law. None of these powers is new or will enhance the devolution settlement. They are all devolved already.

A list of this size was a nonsense and UK ministers seem to be coming round to that view. That is welcome.

However, it seems the UK Government is still intent on reserving key policy areas involving agriculture, GM cultivation, food standards, fisheries, state aid, public sector procurement, environmental quality and a range of other devolved competencies. If the Scottish Parliament is stripped of these powers there will be no requirement for this or any future UK government to take on board views from Scotland (or Wales) in these vital devolved areas.

Mr Mundell does not seem to understand that “releasing” powers implies that they are already in his control. They are not and should not be.

He should be negotiating a sensible agreement based on protecting devolution while finding new ways to work together. That is what the Scottish Government is committed to and will remain so.

Michael Russell,

Minister for UK Negotiations

on Scotland’s Place in Europe,

The Scottish Parliament,

Holyrood, Edinburgh.

WHEN reading the Prime Minister’s statement that there was “complete unanimity within Conservative ranks” and of her “triumph” in the negotiations with the EU on Brexit , I was reminded of then prime minister John Major’s return after the Maastricht Treaty deliberations in 1991. In some Tory quarters he was no less than a hero.

However, ratifying that treaty in the Commons became a long, arduous and divisive journey. The Tory party divided and a group of anti-Maastricht rebels, much encouraged by Margaret Thatcher, was vocal and obstructive.

Between 40 to 60 Tory MPs at times worked with the Labour opposition to defeat sections of the Maastricht legislation. While eventually the Major Government got the legislation through , Mr Major was so disenchanted with a number of anti-European members of his cabinet that he once referred to them as bastards. I believe that, with the present divisions in the Conservative party between Eurosceptics and the Europhiles, Mrs May is about to go down a road with at least as many deep potholes as Mr Major came across.

For those who believe that dealings with the EU have suddenly become more straightforward, let me remind them of the experience of Tony Blair when prime minister. He agreed to surrender £1 billion of the annual UK rebate Margaret Thatcher had secured from the EU. That concession had been made in return for the French agreeing to reduce their huge volume of receipts from the European agricultural support fund. That did not happen.

Suffice to say that any euphoria surrounding Mrs May’s recent late-night visit to Brussels is likely to be promptly dissipated as she leads the UK on the long and troublesome progress to try satisfactorily to extricate us from that multi-faceted institution, the EU.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road,


I DON’T know if Peter Russell is genuinely confused or if he is being deliberately misleading when he argues the case for the various countries of the United Kingdom being on an equal footing (Letters, December 13). First, he refers to the EU referendum where one voter-one vote was the preferred option on the ballot paper. The sheer numbers involved demonstrate that even if each Scottish voter was given 10 votes, the decision would always be England. As it turned out, Scotland voted by a far greater margin to remain within the EU than England voted to leave.

He then refers to the Scottish independence referendum, where the policy of one voter-one vote was an appropriate measure of the decision of the people at the time. But the two examples cannot be compared as equal.

He goes on to foretell the chaos that would have been caused by Scotland leaving the Union and being thrown out of Europe. Look at the daily car crash we are seeing with the useless UK Government negotiating team trying to strong arm its way into a better deal with Europe. Then there is the irony of a small country of roughly five million people (remind you of anywhere?) with the effective power to derail proud England’s plans totally.

Ian McAulay,

42 Woodbank Crescent, Glasgow.

GIVEN recent chaotic developments, at what point do we start to pronounce the word Brexit with a silent “B’’?

Stuart Macdonald,

2 Morar Place, Newton Mearns.