SNP should back May’s Brexit deal in the in­ter­ests of Scot­land

The Herald - - OPINION -

THE in­creas­ingly des­per­ate plight of the Prime Min­is­ter in try­ing to push her with­drawal deal through Par­lia­ment of­fers a rare op­por­tu­nity for the SNP to lever­age its West­min­ster rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the both the best in­ter­ests of Scot­land and the SNP in­de­pen­dence agenda.

With an SNP block of 35 votes, which trans­lates to a swing of 70 in terms of par­lia­men­tary vot­ing arith­metic (from against to for the mo­tion), the SNP could in ef­fect res­cue the Theresa May’s deal from the cer­tain fail­ure it faces.

Her premier­ship is tan­gled up with the fate of her Brexit deal and, such is her po­lit­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­ity, she will prob­a­bly agree to al­most any­thing to en­sure its pas­sage and her sur­vival. It is also fun­da­men­tal to the SNP in­de­pen­dence dreams that the UK avoids a hard Brexit.

If this tran­spired, a fu­ture Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum would ask the Scot­tish peo­ple to vote for a hard bor­der be­tween Scot­land (re-join­ing the EU) and Eng­land (per­ma­nently out­side). This would be a tall ask in­deed, es­pe­cially given the in­sol­u­ble pro­file of the North­ern Ir­ish bor­der in the present de­bate. So, act­ing in naked self-in­ter­est, the SNP should agree to vote for the Brexit with­drawal agree­ment in ex­change for the fol­low­ing com­mit­ments from the West­min­ster Gov­ern­ment.

▪ The im­me­di­ate al­lo­ca­tion of £3 bil­lion in ad­di­tional cash to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment for the 2019/20 fi­nan­cial year, not much more than the Demo­cratic Union­ist Party se­cured for prop­ping up the Gov­ern­ment and less than the £4bn-plus be­ing wasted on a no-deal prepa­ra­tion; a win-win out­come.

▪ Con­sent from the Prime Min­is­ter that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment can hold a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum pro­vided the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment votes for it.

▪ Agree­ment that any spe­cial ar­range­ments ne­go­ti­ated with the EU ap­pli­ca­ble to North­ern Ire­land (for ex­am­ple po­ten­tial cus­toms union mem­ber­ship and sin­gle mar­ket ac­cess) would equally ap­ply to Scot­land.

▪ Scot­land be de­volved the pow­ers to vary the rate of cor­po­ra­tion tax, com­men­su­rate with the sim­i­lar pow­ers pro­posed for North­ern Ire­land such that Scot­land does not suf­fer a com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage.

In the com­ing weeks the SNP has a unique op­por­tu­nity to shape Brexit events, putting Scot­tish in­ter­ests cen­tre stage, rather than, as it fre­quently de­claims, be shaped by them. Ray­mond Hall,

Gart­ness Road,

Kil­learn.

NEVER have so many lu­mi­nar­ies shed so lit­tle light (Let­ters, Jan­uary 9). The let­ter with so many sig­na­to­ries is a prime ex­am­ple of why the Brexit de­bate re­sem­bles First World War trench war­fare – po­si­tions never re­ally change.

That let­ter links to Neil Mckay’s th­e­sis re­gard­ing elites (“Blair’s Iraq war lies sowed the seeds that caused Brexit”, The Her­ald, Jan­uary 8), which con­flates the later Iraq war with one colour of elite. He fails to ac­knowl­edge that the EU em­bod­ies just such an elite to those who voted for Brexit. “Truth stag­nates”?

Rather than stag­nate, ap­par­ently truth is a con­stantly flow­ing river. Fleet­ing cor­us­ca­tions re­flect­ing the light from one di­rec­tion thence from an­other. Neil Mckay should re­mem­ber Tony Blair and Labour won a gen­eral elec­tion well after the in­va­sion of Iraq; it was the stupid econ­omy that saw off Labour.

The fact so many lu­mi­nar­ies ap­pear to be xenophiles shades us from their un­der­ly­ing xeno­ma­nia. And, like any other ma­nia, this pre­cludes the abil­ity to think co­gently about the par­tic­u­lar. Eng­land is not full of xeno­phobes any more than Scot­land is full of xenophiles – im­mi­gra­tion proves that point be­yond any doubt.

Brexit is about elites but, to the great un­washed, it re­ally doesn’t mat­ter which elite gets a bloody nose; it just mat­ters that some­one does and this is di­rectly linked to the stupid econ­omy. This fact is be­yond the ken of any par­tic­u­lar elite; those elites fool­ishly be­lieve that “the peo­ple” be­lieve what they pro­claim. No: “the peo­ple” just find a way to upset “power” in what­ever way they can.

Dr Ron­nie Gal­lagher,

5 Wyn­d­head Steading,

Lauder.

I RE­MARKED in an ear­lier let­ter that, re­gard­ing the Peo­ple’s Vote cam­paign, the en­tan­gle­ment of com­plex EU laws en­sures the en­tire Ac­quis Com­mu­nau­taire, or body of EU laws, is be­yond the grasp of any in­di­vid­ual. Let us not pre­tend the pop­u­la­tion of the UK is bet­ter in­formed than in 1975 or in 2016 (13,000 pages of leg­is­la­tion when we joined the EEC, hun­dreds of thou­sands in to­day’s EU).

The surest guide for the vot­ing pub­lic to ar­rive at a de­ci­sion in a Re­main/leave ref­er­en­dum is the ex­am­i­na­tion of the back­ground and in­ter­ests of the lead­ing pro­po­nents.

So it was in­ter­est­ing to note the names of the sig­na­to­ries to a let­ter (Jan­uary 9) in sup­port of a Peo­ple’s Vote which, we were told, “will al­low an in­formed de­bate”. No­tably ab­sent from this list were those of Lord John Kerr, a ca­reer diplo­mat and de­viser of Ar­ti­cle 50, and Sir An­ton Mus­catelli, Prin­ci­pal of Glas­gow Univer­sity, an econ­o­mist, both of whom are ad­vis­ers to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment. Both ad­dressed a con­fer­ence in Oc­to­ber on the eco­nomic as­pects of a new UK re­la­tion­ship with the EU.

The sig­na­to­ries to this let­ter are mi­nor fig­ures com­pared with the three pro­fes­sional per­suaders who run the Peo­ple’s Vote cam­paign. When the re­sult of the 2016 ref­er­en­dum was known, Alas­tair Camp­bell de­clared he would work to de­feat it; Peter Man­del­son has been prom­i­nent in the cam­paign and, over a year ago, Tony Blair, de­spite the pres­sures of merg­ing his in­ter­na­tional char­i­ties and com­mer­cial en­ter­prises into a new In­sti­tute for Global Change, opened an of­fice in Lon­don to deal with the UK Ref­er­en­dum vote.

Your pages have demon­strated the hor­ror and loathing felt for this man. That he dares to or­gan­ise a Peo­ple’s Vote cam­paign here surely tells us some­thing about the project it­self. Mary Rolls,

58 Castle­gate,

Jed­burgh.

● Have your say:

The Ed­i­tor, The Her­ald, 200 Ren­field Street, Glas­gow G2 3QB; e-mail: let­[email protected]­herald.co.uk

I AM re­search­ing as­pects of the 1938 In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion and came across one of my cut­tings from the Glas­gow Her­ald in 1997 with one of the many writ­ings of Jack Web­ster, un­ri­valled in pen­man­ship.

At his golf club he had met two vis­i­tors from Air­drie, one be­ing Art Sut­ter of dance band fame and the other Bob Mcphail, of Air­drie and Rangers FC fame. In those days sense and sen­si­bil­ity worked to­gether. Mcphail could earn, at most, £8 a week, plus a £2 win bonus. He wrote there were those who couldn’t lace the boots of Mcphail but who walked away with £15,000 a week. But, he wrote, there was more to life than money: dis­ci­pline, dig­nity, mod­esty and re­spect for oth­ers. The mes­sage seems rel­e­vant for those fer­rets wrestling in a sack at West­min­ster, dis­parag­ing democ­racy. I look for­ward to the UK be­ing an in­de­pen­dent coun­try with a sen­si­ble re­la­tion­ship with the po­lit­i­cal EU.

Graeme Smith,

Green­law Road,

New­ton Mearns.

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