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Letters: SNP must have a debate on policy of EU membership

IT is certainly true, as Jim Sillars asserts (Letters, February 10), that the only question Westminster could have asked in 2016 regarding EU membership was whether or not the UK should “Remain” as a member, or “Leave”. Scotland had handed back its sovereignty on September 18, 2014 and was part of the EU only by virtue of being part of the UK. However, it is no less true that in 2016 some 62 per cent of those who voted in Scotland did so to Remain, in contrast to Wales and to England.

The significance of this is that even if arguably the EU is the most significant policy difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK, it is by no means the only one, and, as such, an important illustration of growing differences in aims and policy between these two parts of the UK. As such, should we be surprised it is used to make political capital (something I suspect Mr Sillars is himself familiar with)?

In any event, while in terms of constitutionality Mr Sillars is correct, in terms of practical politics, how does he think it sits with assurances given in 2014 of a “partnership of equals” and, even worse, “Don’t leave us Scotland, lead us”?

Mr Sillars’ confession that he voted Leave to “get the EU out of the way for the next referendum, given that in 2014 it was on the side of the UK Government, telling us in polite language to get stuffed”, does though point to another, but more serious issue, that Scottish Government policy treats EU post-independence membership more or less as a given.

Twenty years ago, in any EU referendum I would have voted for continuing membership with both hands had I been allowed to do so. For instance, many of the positive developments in employment rights came from our membership of the EEC/ EU. However, since then their actions against the Greeks, and their inaction on events in Catalonia, causes me to question whether it should be treated as an axiomatic aim of independence?

Should the policy of the Scottish Government on the EU not be one that not only allows but actively encourages debate about future EU membership, rather than presenting it as an almost inevitable consequence of independence?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

BEING a politician, and at least its co-author, Jim Sillars will certainly have the answer to a SNP slogan of some time ago – namely “Independence in Europe”- as he is now arguing against any such action.

I well recall Jim Fairlie, a member of the SNP’s NEC at the time, bring denigrated for arguing the very case Mr Sillars is now making, but one question I have yet to hear any politician address is the following:

At the time of joining the EEC (as it was then), we were all told that Value Added Tax (VAT) was the price of membership – so now we are on the threshold of leaving the EU – when can I anticipate the abandonment of this tax?

The phrase “dream on” immediately comes to mind.

Alan McKinney, Edinburgh EH16.

I READ Ian McConnell’s article (“Brexiters’ antics miss the point as reality tells a different story”, Herald Business, February 7) with increasing difficulty; why continue to be upset, why not leave well alone and stop reading. Antics, really, from Leavers (his word) in jubilant form the previous Friday?

I hate to bring this back to money, but the Pink Book (UK Balance of Payments 2019) does show in Table 9.9 that the UK in 2018 sent £15,519m to the EU.

I note these official statistics have been changed since Boris Johnson and his bus. The Fontainebleau Abatement is now deducted from this value in the ONS statistics. So, Mr Johnson used the old gross 2014 figure, £19,107m to the EU, or £367m per week.

The Office for National Statistics did publish that figure. Now it would show £14,691m for 2014, or £282m per week. The 2018 comparative is £298m per week.

The UK voted to leave, and, some long time thereafter, voted into power a PM who said he would deliver. UK politicians have failed to take the country with them as the EU developed. Indeed, did our political leaders really fight at all for benefits for areas now bereft of meaningful employment?

As a bean counter taught to perform cost/benefit analyses, where then is Mr McConnell’s basis for the “huge benefits” of free movement of people and frictionless trade? Net, or gross benefits?

I reflect on a country where words are cheap, and actions, if any, often hardly match the vision presented.

David Hamilton, Largs.

DR RM Morris (Letters, February 4) talks about our town of Huntly “celebrating to leave the EU”. I wish to rectify this, and explain that we were planting a weeping willow as a living reminder of this historic day.

Deveron Projects has vehemently discussed Brexit in a critical manner, and staged over the past three years ample events to discuss the impact on our communities. This included “Brexfasts” on various topics, such as local politics, education, health, art and tourism.

We hope that this weeping willow “monument” will become a place of pilgrimage to reflect on the impact of Brexit for years to come.

Claudia Zeiske, Director, Deveron Projects, Huntly.

Getting the EU out of the way will aid independence

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