DAVID Leask reports statements by Esteban González Pons of the centre-right Partido Popular (PP), warning that Spain may veto Scottish membership of the European Union (EU) if the UK was still negotiating to leave, and that in order to join we “would have to wait in a queue behind Turkey and Serbia” ("Spanish MP says Scotland must join end of EU queue", The Herald, April 16).

Why would Mr Pons do this now? As Mr Leask reports, Spain is in the middle of an election, in which PP hope to return to power, which it lost last year due to corruption scandals which inter alia put the party treasurer in jail for 33 years. It is therefore important to encourage his voters to forget this, by acting “the tough guy”, standing up for Spain, in the hope that the electorate will forget all about the scandals, and instead remember that PP is the true successor to Franco and the Falangists.

Even worse is that both of Mr Pons’s claims are highly uncertain. Joining the EU depends on meeting membership criteria to the satisfaction of EU member countries, not on a first-come first-served basis. Thus, there is no queue.

Likewise, to prevent Scotland from joining would require Spain to show in what regard we fell short of fulfilling membership requirements. One possibility – no more – is that if Scotland uses Sterling in the informal way suggested by the Growth Commission, it can be contended that with no currency of our own, we could not commit to joining the euro when conditions allow (and if we chose to do so), as we could not participate in ERM2.

But, we could still secure single market access by joining EFTA and committing to the EEA, and likewise frictionless trade by joining the EU’s Customs Union (though Norway seems to manage fine without one). Having an alternative in case of difficulty in joining the EU would hardly be inconsistent with the focus of the First Minister’s statements about Europe since June 2016.

In short, even if we are not EU members, we can still achieve many of Scotland’s European ambitions. Moreover, questions about which currency we would use or joining the euro become otiose. Moreover, we would be out of the Common Fisheries Policy, and if we were kept out by Spain there would be a righteous sense of schadenfreude when we tell them to go sail their fishing boats somewhere else. We would also be out of the Common Agricultural Policy, requiring an independent Scottish government to make good the loss of subsidy, unless we want to depopulate some more of rural Scotland.

Perhaps a sensible proposition would be to join EFTA/ EEA in the first instance, see how things go and, in a few years, hold a referendum on whether to negotiate to join the EU, or not.

Thus, having a viable alternative to hand renders largely redundant the kind of “warnings” reported by Mr Leask. In fact, the response to them can be “so what?”.

Alasdair Galloway,

14 Silverton Avenue, Dumbarton.

I WISH To deprecate the hate mail sent to those like Keith Howell, who have reasonable opinions they wish to assert in a public forum, yet face opprobrium because of that opinion; or their place of birth; or their colour, creed or any other bogus excuse to shut them up (Letters, April 17). More strength to your elbow, Keith. We may disagree on some issues, but democratic debate cannot take place in a bear-pit.

However, I must also deprecate the use of the term “evil” to describe a political party contesting, and winning, seats fairly in elections. Alexander McKay (Letters, April 17) is misleading when he claims the SNP is a “one-issue” party. It governs Scotland across the board, at least as well as elsewhere on these islands. Also, we must not allow different rules on referenda to, once again, single Scotland out for different treatment than is the norm.

GR Weir,

17 Mill Street, Ochiltree.

DOES Alexander McKay’s hatred of the SNP know no bounds? Obviously, there are many Labour voters who could never bring themselves to vote Conservative in any circumstances, and vice versa. But surely even Alexander McKay must acknowledge that Ian Murray only holds his Edinburgh South seat on the back of a chunk of Tory voters who vote for him to keep out the SNP. You can’t have it all ways.

Ian M Baillie,

1 Tudhope Crescent, Alexandria.