IN the last week we learned that Amsterdam had overtaken London as Europe’s largest share trading centre, with the City likely to lose more jobs and business as a result. The Dutch capital saw daily trading surge from €2.6 billion to €9.2bn after Brexit.The UK has no comprehensive trade deal covering financial services.With Edinburgh Europe’s fourth-largest financial centre, would that not be an opportunity were an independent Scotland to be in the European Union?
Similarly, the example was raised, in last Sunday’s The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, of a major Sheffield importer of Japanese precision engineering goods who is now being financially crippled. In The EU these goods could formerly be traded freely to the continent. Today he has to pay duties because of rules of origin requirements and bureaucratic export licences which run to hundreds of pounds each time. He will now locate to the EU as his business model is unviable. Last week the huge JB Sports firm ominously said much the same.
How many firms would bring investment and jobs to an independent Scotland in the EU from rUK for the very same reason this programme highlighted?
John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.
WHAT IF INDIE DIDN’T LAST?
THE SNP seems to think Indyref2 and independence are a done deal.
But what if Indyref2 ended in a narrow, Brexit style 52-48 result, people had second thoughts and a pro-UK alliance, copying the Liberal Democrats and the SNP in the 2019 General Election vowed to revoke Scottish independence?
Page 51 of the SNP’s Scotland’s Future document promised an election in March 2016, 18 months after the referendum, by which time negotiations would be complete with “the UK, EU and other international partners and organisations”. Yet Brexit took four years.
More likely the complexity, implications and uncertainty of negotiations will be giving people second thoughts, especially since common sense and rUK public opinion would demand a hard line from Westminster on borders, currency, pensions, Trident, trade, debt, citizenship and movement of people and labour.
The reality is the SNP Government would fight the election intending to be governing for the next fiveyears. The possibility is the pro-UK side could leverage dissatisfaction, could win the election, form a coalition and either bin independence, or do a Theresa May-like watered-down deal.
This would be a huge humiliation for Scotland, albeit a relief for many and the right thing to do to avert disaster..
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY OVER ELECTIONS
I RECEIVED my notification that the Scottish elections are on the first week in May. I am somewhat confused. The First Minister is still informing us that we must stay at home in fear of Covid-19.
That is essential and I understand why the lockdown is in place.
However, how do we stay at home to prevent the spread of Covid and go out to the polling stations to vote if the lockdown is still in force when we have been told to stay at home?
One answer may be a postal vote. But I still wish to carry out my democratic right of the practice of going to a polling station to cast my vote. The postal vote should not be the only way to enable us to cast our vote.
Would it not, therefore, be safer and stay safe in our houses until the whole population has been vaccinated before we venture out and expose ourselves to the virus which is still with us?
Not everyone has been vaccinated and the virus is still with us.
Can we not be safe rather than sorry and delay the May elections?
Valerie Stewart, East Kilbride.
REAL FEARS OVER INDEPENDENCE
I FEAR greatly for my children and grandchildren if they have at some point to live in a separated Scotland. It is not that I think a broken-off Scotland would not survive, it probably could, but it is the poverty-inducing price that will have to be paid and that pay-back austerity period could be painful in the extreme and take decades. Brexit would be a stroll in comparison.
And what about pensions and benefits and financing Scotland’s bloated public sector when they have shut out and raised borders with the UK? Could it turn out like Greece where teachers and public service workers and pensions and benefits were simply not paid when the cash ran out and no-one would lend to them?
This is the opposite of scaremongering and is an appeal to common sense and consideration for others. These fears are very real and I believe justifiable. Most of us are capable of thinking things through.
Those who are not worried should be.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh EH6.
VACCINE SUCCESS NOT DOWN TO BREXIT
GEOFF Moore (Letters, January 14) seems to suggest that the successful UK rollout of the Covid vaccine, compared to EU states, was enabled by Brexit. In fact, the UK contracts for supply of the vaccine were placed during 2019 when we were in the EU and bound by its rules. All EU states were free to negotiate their own contracts with the vaccine suppliers and Germany and Hungary certainly did so.
I’m pleased that the UK Government took the decision that it did, but please don’t claim it as some sort of victory for Brexit.
Douglas Morton, Lanark.
DOOR LEFT OPEN FOR TRUMP
WHAT are we to make of Senator Mitch McConnell’s condemnation of Donald Trump’s conduct on January 6 after he had voted for his acquittal ?
Those comments would have carried credibility if he had uttered them before voting and then gone on to find Mr Trump guilty.
Where Senator McConnell would have been the headline grabber under those circumstances for his principled stand to uphold the security of the US constitution, he left the field wide open for Mr Trump’s triumphant return to the front pages to trumpet his acquittal and to herald his fresh onslaught against the swamp.
The stance adopted by most Republican senators reflected their worry about the repercussions their careers would have faced if they had opted to find Mr Trump guilty.
So they protected their perks, privileges and positions from what would then have been an anger directed against them by Mr Trump’s immoveably loyal fanbase.
Now The Donald’s demagoguery has been given the opportunity for a fresh impetus, plainly detrimental to the security of the US .
Are we then safe to draw the conclusion that the protection of the Republican senators’ positions takes precedence over the wellbeing of their nation?
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.
DANGERS OF DIVERSIFYING
YOUR article on small hydro and rates relief (“Scottish hydroelectric schemes face ruin due to controversial state-aid rates relief ‘loophole’”, February 14) creates the wrong impression in two ways.
It is illustrated with a picture of the Laggan dam which is part of the Lochaber hydro scheme feeding the 90MW generators of the Lochaber smelter. That is not small hydro, which is <5MW.
It states that “It is estimated that 30-40% of the UK’s renewable generation is provided by hydropower”. I don’t know why it needs to be estimated when the numbers are readily available in government statistical publications. The Digest of UK Eneregy Statistics June 2020 gives the figures for hydro generation during 2019 (Table 6.4). For all hydro it is 5% of of total UK renewable generation. For small hydro it is 1.2%.
I welcome rural land businesses diversifying but there are dangers, because almost all forms of diversification rely upon the UK or Scottish governments making good decisions and sticking with them over the long term. Small hydro construction took off in the 2010s encouraged by subsidy schemes set up by government (and paid for by all of us through our electricity bills). It came to an almost complete halt in 2017 when new capacity no longer attracted subsidy.
Similar vulnerability to policy change at Scottish or UK level exists for forestry, farming and even tourism enterprises. The rates debacle is simply another manifestation of this larger problem.
Dave Gordon, Scone.
FOLLY OF SHELL AND TESLA
SHELL’s latest jolly jape of planting a few trees to offset its global carbon emissions is beyond the pale. Oil companies create three-quarters of UK emissions by their dirty work in the North Sea. Therefore giving yourself a tax dodge in the name of “being green” is a massive mistake. Just like not wanting to pay for and clean up its ageing rigs in the North Sea and passing that cost on to the taxpayer.
There are remarkable echoes in the always over-rated EV maker Tesla story. Despite claims of having an entire year’s worth of profit the truth is it actually lost $800 million in 2020. Confused? Don’t be. Its “profit” was the result of skewing the results due to the US tax credit system as it offset the established makers transition to EV manufacture.
Furthermore buying into Bitcoin, as Tesla has done, is daft as well. Research at Cambridge University shows Bitcoin is more energy-hungry than powering Argentina and as fundamentally flawed as being part of a business empire still reliant on fossil fuel for its supply chain and distribution which also includes a space business which regularly crashes and burns, adding yet more unnecessary pressure on Mother Earth.
Ian Beattie, Aberdeen.
PROTEST AGAINST FUEL DUTY RISE
RISHI Sunak is rumoured to be considering a rise of 5p in fuel duty in next month’s Budget. This would devastate the UK’s road haulage industry and increase food prices. This would also be yet another blow to the car owner.
Motorists in the UK should do as the French did when President Macron tried to parade his green credentials by increasing fuel taxes. They put on their Yellow Vests and took to the streets. Mr Macron capitulated. A lesson here for the UK’s motorists?
Clark Cross, Linlithgow.