I WATCHED the whole of the Brexit debate in Holyrood yesterday. While it was very encouraging to see Labour and the Liberal Democrats line up to support the integrity of the Scottish Parliament, I am puzzled, as was Patrick Harvie, by the keenness of the Labour Party to hold further talks with the UK Government on the issue.

What do they hope to achieve? There can be only one solution to this, and that is for the UK Government to remove Clause 15 (formerly Clause 11) from the UK bill. In the absence of a willingness of the UK Government to even consider such a move, any further talks are a complete waste of time. So what is the Labour Party thinking? Do they have half an eye on what Corbyn’s line is at Westminster? Are they going to follow their Welsh counterparts in caving in to pressure from London? Is this a softening-up exercise? Who knows?

What cannot happen is that there is any compromise at all on the integrity of the Scottish Parliament. Not one single power can be retained for one single day, and neither can we accept a “rape clause” form of consent, where Westminster can assume consent to legislate in devolved matters even if Holyrood explicitly refuses permission for them to do so.

Alastair Naughton
Peterculter, Aberdeen

IT was good to see the big majority in the Scottish Parliament opposing the Brexit bill as it affected devolution. Fluffy Mundell and the Scottish Tories don’t seem to understand that Mrs May is in no position to offer to devolve the 24 relevant matters after seven years.

Firstly, because she is unlikely to be Prime Minister beyond next March. Secondly, If Rees-Mogg, Johnson,Gove or their ilk, all anti-devolution, gain power they will be in a position to change anything.

Thirdly, who would trust this Tory party? Mrs May has already reneged on all the promises she made in her inaugural speech as Prime Minister, eg “I will govern for everyone”, yet she ignores the wishes of over 48% of the voting population. Those in government can’t even trust their own colleagues (think of the Gove/Johnson affair, Johnson rushing to the Tory press to undermine the Cabinet, the plotting to remove Amber Rudd and episodes too numerous to mention).

Finally, are the Tory MSPs Trojan Horses encouraged by Westminster to destroy the Scottish Parliament?

Mike Underwood

REGARDING the Scottish Government’s rejection of the legislative consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Once again we have the Tory government crying “will of the people”. Anyone with any grasp of statistics will know that in a United Kingdom referendum the vastly superior English electoral numbers will prevail and England will get what England wants.

This Tory government, driven by its hard-right Brexiteers, are determined on their own power grab.They abhor devolved government and their Empire 2 ambitions are to have an all-powerful centralised Westminster. This power grab is only the first step to neuter Holyrood and turn it into a puppet assembly aided and abetted by Ruth Davidson and her Scottish Tories. We should be afraid; very afraid.

Terry Keegans
Beith, North Ayrshire

THAT’S it! It’s happened. The National has come of age. Your fine publication was actually featured on the news briefing yesterday morning broadcast from BBC Radio Four, ie London.

I was almost spurned on to tune in to BBC Radio Scotland’s start-up at 6am, but came to my senses and went back to Classic FM!

Kenny Burnett
Dyce, Aberdeen

NO doubt like many others, I am tired of hearing that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. My understanding is that, like any nation, it has a political and moral right to defend itself within internationally recognised boundaries. In this case, these do not include East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, annexed in 1967 and not recognised since.

Until Israel gives up these areas and the matter is settled internationally, there should be no support for it and no arms supplied by the UK.

The UK Government is at least sounding a note of caution over the current celebrations in Jerusalem and not slavishly following where Trump has just opened his mouth and put his big foot in it. What the USA has done is not only morally wrong, it could also be the start of a worsening of the political situation, leading to a resort to weapons.

The people who will be hurt if and when weapons start flying will not be the Trump supporters, safely at home in the mid-west in the USA, but the citizens of Israel and Palestine.

We also hear ad nauseam that Israel is a democracy, which is correct, but that being so, it is strange that nothing is ever heard of those of its citizens who do not agree with the current policies of the US and the Netanyahu government, kept in office only by the goodwill of a small party. I cannot believe that these command 100% support within Israel, yet the impression given by propaganda emanating from both suggests that this is the case. It may be asked if the US is a real friend to Israel. When someone is in trouble, real friends do not push them deeper into the mire, as Trump is doing. Instead they try to help to find a permanent solution.

The West used to be very excited by the Berlin wall and the German-German frontier, both of which I crossed many times. It was not a good experience, especially when crossing the “no man’s land” between checkpoints. I often wonder why there is no similar agitation here about Israel’s wall and checkpoints.

Brian Patton
Foulden Bastle, Berwickshire