YOUR report on Gordon Brown’s speech ("PM Johnson could be the last of United Kingdom", says Brown", The Herald, July 18) suggests that in five years he has forgotten nothing but learned nothing.

He begins by suggesting that “Now is not the time” has been a “holding operation”, but a “holding operation” implies that if you hang on long enough the 7th Cavalry will come over the hill, bugles blaring. However, forecasts of most opinion polls over the last couple of years suggest that at worst, for the SNP, it would gain nothing, ranging up to once again winning 56 MPs at Westminster. With Mr Johnson leading the cavalry though, I suspect they might come over the wrong hill!

Mr Brown next claims he wants “to make sure Scotland can have a progressive place within the UK”. Well, I have two bits of news for him. First, if Scotland already had a “progressive place in the UK”, the UK wouldn’t be leaving the EU. Brexit most definitely is not Scotland’s doing, but the outcome of a completely unbalanced and unequal Union in which we get dragged along by far and away the largest member state. Secondly, that we heard this sort of guff five years ago, including JK Rowling’s greatest work of fiction, when she wrote in 2014 that “I doubt whether we will ever have been more popular, or in a better position to dictate terms, than if we vote to stay”. Last year The Future of England Survey (Edinburgh and Cardiff University) found that 88 per cent of Leave voters in England regard Brexit as more important than the survival of the Union. One in three English voters don't think Scottish MPs of any party should be members of the Cabinet, rising to 40 per cent when specifically asked about SNP MPs. The Union appears to have fewer friends, even in England, than its declining band of supporters imagine. The late David Bowie may have said “Scotland, stay with us", but that was five years ago.

When Mr Brown speaks of “whether we can put the progressive case for Scotland’s role in Britain, which Boris Johnson can’t do, and it’s left to people who are not of Mr Johnson’s view but who support Scotland’s role in the UK to put the case now”, he reveals his lack of understanding of what Sir Nick Clegg at least has come to recognise, that “the Brexit demon has unleashed such an aggressive and regressive right-wing English nationalism. And that the Conservative Party is converting itself into an English nationalist party”.

It is gallant of Mr Brown to seek to defend the Union when the UK has fallen into such circumstances, but that defence increasingly strikes me as a doomed and hopeless attempt to delay the inevitable, no matter the cost. There is a clearly marked door for the Scottish electorate to walk through in order to avoid the fate of domination by, in Sir Nick’s words, “an English nationalist party”. It’s called “independence”.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

IT was interesting to read Iain Macwhirter’s piece on Boris Johnson ("I'm secretly looking forward to seeing Johnson in No 10", The Herald, July 17) and then the next day an article by Andy Maciver ("Don't panic, there's hope for Unionists in Johnson as PM", The Herald, July 18) on the same subject. At least Mr Maciver was reasonably objective (albeit critical in parts) with many interesting suggestions and reasoned arguments about a possible way forward with the UK constitution, using Canada as a fine example at how they successfully devolved power throughout their country and effectively shut the lid on separatism.

Contrast this with Mr Macwhirter who had nothing constructive to say other than to take delight at attempting to do a character assassination on Mr Johnson. Take for example his comment about how “hilarious” it would be to see Mr Johnson on “bended knee” to Donald Trump. Clearly Mr Macwhirter has difficulty in understanding that a good trade deal with America is essential not just for the UK but for the economy of Scotland as 65 per cent of our “exports” (£50 billion) depends on the how the rUK economy performs – notwithstanding Scotland’s exports to the US is a further £5 billion which could grow substantially in a new partnership.

Frankly I couldn’t care less how Mr Johnson’s “body language” looks with Mr Trump provided he gets the job done and the forthcoming tough negotiations (with possible trade tariffs) between the US and the EU will not apply to the UK as we should no longer be part of protectionist Europe. How ironic it would be if the EU had to manufacture in the UK to beat US sanctions – one never knows.

Ian Lakin, Aberdeen AB13.

THERE is little to disagree with in Andy Maciver’s analysis of a Boris Johnson premiership and Scotland.

I have pointed out before that the most popular preference of Scots (according to decades of polling) is for all power excepting foreign policy and defence to be controlled by Holyrood. But while federalism (with a written constitution) could end constitutional strife, I just do not believe that solution is attainable, because UK parties and politicians do not want it, have no conception of how to implement it, and are about as committed to it as to reform of the Lords.

Any “federal solution” would also require a timeous launch to head off independence: that is, it would be too late to commit to it just before an Indyref2, probably two or three years from now. If it was just the bare bones of a vague vow/pledge, who would believe in its veracity? Especially when we see Gordon Brown on the front page reminding us of constitutional promises made (federalism, devo max, home rule) by him and others in 2014, promises never kept.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

ONCE again, the Scottish Government has raised less in income tax – £941 million less – than was predicted. Fortunately, this will be partially offset by an increase to the Scottish block grant of £737 million. This means that there will be a shortfall of "only" £204 million in 2020-21 for expenditure on public services. And this is before we consider the annual fiscal transfer of £10 billion or more from the Treasury to the Scottish Government. Thank goodness Scotland is part of a Union where pooling and sharing within the UK safeguards expenditure on our public services.

The Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, claims, of course, that he could do better if he had full income tax powers. There is nothing to suggest that that would be the case. And when Gordon Brown and Sir Nick Clegg are scaremongering about the fate of the Union, they might stop to remember that most Scots know that we are better off in the Union, and that those who are infused with nationalist propaganda and say that we are not live in cloud cuckoo land.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh EH14.

Read more: Brown: Johnson could be last PM of the UK