THE reports in the media regarding recent “successful” discussions with Monsieur Barnier et al are, to put it mildly, confusing. The truth is we, who are most affected by the final deal, are not being told what is being or has been agreed regarding matters of vital interest. Included in that category are several areas at issue between Westminster and Holyrood.

Repatriation of powers from Brussels in the event of withdrawal from the EU was unequivocally dealt with in the devolution settlements, recognising that certain responsibilities would require to be passed directly to the devolved administrations. While the confusion reigns over what has been agreed with Monsieur Barnier, there is no confusion whatsoever over the intentions of Westminster vis-a vis the devolved governments. One example is the fishing industry in Scotland, which will be used as a quid pro quo by May, Davis et al to extract “the best deal for the UK” from Brussels.

It is patently evident that Westminster will cherry-pick to its own advantage, ignoring past internal UK agreements, any powers repatriated in the final “deal” including responsibilities for matters vital to Scotland’s economy such as fishing and access to Scottish waters. Westminster’s recognition of the latter can be interpreted succinctly by reference to the 1998/9 “repatriation” to UK control by Tony Blair of the Eastern coastal waters of Scotland between St Andrews and Berwick.

The English language has two words which describe precisely the motivation of Westminster in the shape of May, Davis, Johnson and Hammond, which are dissemblance and duplicity.

To achieve decent, honest government, the Scottish people are duty-bound to repatriate sufficient powers so to do, which will be achieved when and only when they opt for independence.

J Hamilton

FROM the team which brought us cake-and-eat-it Brexit, we now have cake-and-eat-it Russia-gate.

Yet again the UK negotiating team has managed to achieve something like the position that the EU negotiating team told us all along we would have to accept. Now that has gone so well, the team leaders are unhappy that the Russian Government is demanding evidence before they admit any participation in the events in Salisbury.

The supporters of the UK Government are in full Brexit mode, accepting all that Boris Johnson says about this situation in the same way they accepted his lies about the £350 million per week for the NHS. Those of us who support the rule of law are vilified as traitors because we want to see the evidence. In the UK a person accused of murder still expects to see the evidence presented at a trial before an “impartial” judge and jury. It appears that in this case Boris Johnson is acting as chief prosecutor, judge and jury, has found the defendant guilty and is relying on the baying crowds to support him.

Robert Mitchell

THERE is a quote which has its origins in 17th century Italy and states: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I was reminded of this when I noted the fate that has befallen Scotland’s fishermen under the current Conservative government, done up yet again like the proverbial kipper.

Despite the Scottish Conservatives and UK Government heralding last week that the UK would not be subject to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, this is simply untrue and the UK will have to abide by CFP rules until the end of the transition period in late 2020.

Not only will the UK have to abide by the rules, but it will have no say over those same rules, to be merely “consulted” on the allocation of quotas during the transition period.

In the early 1970s Scotland’s fishermen were infamously “sold out” by the Conservatives under Prime Minister Ted Heath in order to gain entry into what was then the European Economic Community.

Those who sadly do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. So true for our poor fishermen.

Alex Orr

THE National states that “a law should be passed to keep Shetland in its right place on maps” (Maps move to ensure there’s no putting Shetland back in its box, The National, March 20). I agree.

The distorted BBC weather map which has now been altered always annoyed me, not only because of the subliminal political view it expressed but also because it made the extremely volatile variations of weather that pertain in Scotland difficult to pick out. If I travelled from Kinross-shire to the north of Perthshire, could I expect the farm road to be clear?

Equally Shetland should also always be in situ, not only to make the weather map accurate but to show the true extent of Scotland’s extensive seas, which far exceed the paltry area which can be called English. If the Scottish map were always printed with the national seas shown, this would make clear our enormous marine wealth in fishing and wind/tidal power, not to mention fossil fuel. While we are at it, the slice which was stolen by Westminster off Berwick should be be delineated.

To mark this change symbolically, Union Jacks in Scotland should have the blue panels changed to the correct azure until we can disentangle ourselves from our present political tangle and that flag ceases to rule the waves (or waive the rules).

Iain WD Forde

THE Scottish Secular Society welcomes the news that the SNP’s governing body is moving to debate the long overdue repeal of Scotland’s blasphemy laws. We fully support any move to more formally entrench freedom of expression as it is laid out in Article 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, and hope this action gains cross-party support.

We would support Scotland joining England, Wales and many other countries across the world in removing blasphemy laws from the books. We also agree that such action would allow Scotland a more firm moral position when criticising human rights abuses in other states. These archaic laws are a detriment to Scottish moral discourse both at home and internationally.

While no prosecution has been made under the blasphemy laws since the 19th century, their existence represents the formal ties between the state and religious organisations that remain in existence in modern Scottish society.

The repeal of blasphemy laws would be a positive action in the pursuit of a more secular Scotland but we would like to see such actions built upon. We would push for more concrete social reform, including the removal of religious observance in state schools and the removal of unelected religious appointees on council education committees.

John Duncan
Scottish Secular Society