A YEAR after the end of the transition period which followed Britain’s departure from the EU, it would be instructive and possibly quite reassuring to hear from someone who supported the idea of leaving the EU with their views on what exactly has been achieved by Brexit which is of benefit to us all.
It is easy to list the disadvantages and difficulties faced by virtually everyone, including most sections of business and industry, but it is proving very difficult to see where the actual advantages are or may be in the future. The much-vaunted trade deals have failed to materialise and the ones that have been concluded we mostly had as members of the EU. The new ones will be of negligible value and may actually turn out to be counter-productive.
Boris Johnson and his Brexit-supporting Government make attempts to show the success of their ideological disaster but so far fail singularly to show any real benefits. Blaming the pandemic has given them breathing space. “Global Britain” is an oxymoron and we appear to be an isolated and friendless little island somewhere in the North Sea. A comprehensive list of the benefits of Brexit from someone who could truthfully tell us what they are would go a long way to dispelling this impression.
Nigel Dewar Gibb, Glasgow.
THE MADNESS IS FULLY EXPOSED
AS we mark the end of the first year of new trade terms between the UK and EU, the predicted negative impacts of Brexit on the economy and on living standards are becoming clearer.
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), it has been estimated that the UK economy will be roughly four per cent worse off than it would have been had the 2016 EU referendum gone the other way. As of October, the latest month for which data is available, UK imports and exports were 15.7% below the level that could have been expected had the UK not left the EU’s customs union and single market in January. In parallel with this, the ending of freedom of labour has led to much-publicised shortages of lorry drivers, farm labours and abattoir workers.
Reinforced with the impacts of Covid-19, this has seen UK growth lag behind the US and the eurozone. Gross domestic product in the UK was 3.9% higher in the third quarter of 2021 than in the second quarter of 2016. Over the same period the eurozone produced 6.2% growth and the US 10.6%.
Brexit has had a devastating impact on the UK economy, which has to an extent been masked by Covid-19. As the pandemic recedes, these impacts will become obvious for all to see and the economic madness that is Brexit fully exposed.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh.
NATIONALISM IS A BLIND GAMBLE
IT is a pleasure to take up the discussion on social democracy versus nationalism with your correspondents John Jamieson and GR Weir (Letters, December 27). However, both have flaws in their arguments which sum up the thinness of the nationalist case.
Mr Jamieson bemoans the lack of a properly functioning social democracy in the UK. He should reflect that the Labour governments elected by the UK electorate created council housing, the comprehensive Welfare State, the NHS, the Barnett Formula, the National Minimum Wage, Working Families Tax Credits and devolution throughout the UK. In short, although we do not have the social democratic settlement Mr Jamieson and I crave, what do have is a set of social democratic institutions and mechanisms. These have proven robust enough to survive successive national and international crises and – above all – the efforts of Tory governments under Margaret Thatcher, John Major, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson to undermine or destroy them. Like Mr Jamieson, I want more of these – but as yet and over a period of many decades, the nationalists have failed to show us how their alternative would be better.
Which brings neatly on to Mr Weir’s nationalist fallacy – that the deficit shown by GERS is not a valid criticism because it does not show how Scotland’s finances would look if we were independent. In fact, no-one says that this is the case: what we say is if Scotland were to become independent, what would be different? How would that deficit be avoided – through higher tax or lower spending on services or both? Without knowing the answers, nationalism is a blind gamble which no rational person could countenance, least of all those interested in defending the workers who would pay those extra taxes and those who need those services.
Peter A Russell, Glasgow.
UNIONISTS WILL WIN INDYREF2
WR McCrindle (Letters, December 24) believes “the three devolved nations” all marching “to entirely different sets of political drums….will in due course hasten the break-up of the United Kingdom”.
The regime we have in Scotland will not in any way be part of this destruction of the United Kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon has kicked the independence can down the road since defeat in 2014 because she knows there will be no success. Given a referendum any time, those who appreciate the strength of the United Kingdom, as proved during the Covid crisis, will ensure “the people of Scotland” will not end up in some isolated, bankrupt, over-taxed, high-unemployment backwater.
Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.
THE DREAM IS CLOSER TO REALITY
BOB Scott (Letters, December 27) accuses the Scottish Government of living its independence dream, no matter the damage it engenders. You published his letter a mere 24 hours after an opinion poll on Westminster voting intentions revealed that the Conservatives would be wiped out in Scotland, Labour would merely retain its single seat and the LibDems would see their representation halved to two. The poll went on to reveal that the SNP would increase its representation from 45 to 56 MPs and that Nicola Sturgeon is the most trusted political leader in the UK.
I am sure that we can also take from this poll a clear reflection of the voters’ views on the leadership and handling of the pandemic. Mr Scott may want to reflect on the poll’s findings and further familiarise himself with the aims and ambitions of the SNP, because “living that dream” is becoming closer to reality with each passing day Mr Johnson remains PM.
Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.
A TOTALITARIAN MENTALITY
THE Scottish Government trusts neither parents to look after their children, nor jurors to decide verdicts in rape trials, nor by virtue of the Hate Crime Act even people’s conversations in their own homes. At the same time, Named Persons, judges, the police and prosecutors are implicitly trusted.
Not just a pattern but a philosophy is revealed. On the one hand every private individual is distrusted, and on the other every servant of the state is above suspicion. Such a totalitarian mentality should have no place in a democracy under the rule of law.
That it is displayed utterly brazenly in Scotland speaks volumes about the Soviet type of Scotland the SNP leadership wishes to create and the complete lack of credible opposition it faces.
Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.
FUTURE HAS NEVER BEEN SO UNCERTAIN
RUTH Marr (Letters, December 27), indicates that Boris Johnson broke his own rules by shaking hands whilst, among other events, thanking NHS staff for their efforts in tackling the virus, although she does not mention that event specifically. The rules she refers to were advisory and therefore not broken by Mr Johnson; furthermore she has no way of knowing if this is how he caught the virus or that he did not wash his hands whilst singing Happy Birthday twice after the events.
With her reference to the next Prime Minister having no mandate to impose themselves on Scotland may I remind her that Scotland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, as it was in 1955, and as such remains under the auspices of the UK Government and the incumbent Prime Minister, also that the two PMs preceding 2010 were Scots.
If anyone has a legitimate cause to complain about the lack of a mandate to govern, then it is the Scottish electorate themselves. The Scottish Greens enjoyed a miserly eight per cent share of the vote at the last Holyrood election and yet here they are wielding a level of influence way beyond their standing. Just one example of the power they now wield in government is the damage they propose to the oil and gas industry in Scotland with subsequent decimation of jobs in the area. All thanks to Nicola Sturgeon inviting them to prop up her and her SNP Government. The future has never looked so uncertain.
Christopher H Jones, Giffnock.
THAT IRRITATING QUESTION
MARK Smith’s column today was devoted to the irritation he felt on not having a Scottish/British box to tick on his booster jag form (“The question I didn’t expect on jag day: Are you British?”, The Herald, December 27). Maybe now he’ll understand the irritation felt by the many people like me who feel no affiliation to the British state but who – nine times out of 10 – have only a “nationality UK” box to tick on forms.
Mary McCabe, Glasgow.