NOW that we are fully aware of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and it lurches towards inevitable defeat in the House of Commons, one of the few options left on the table to address the resulting impasse is that of a public vote.

The question to be put to the electorate is fairly straightforward – support the deal, leave the EU with no deal or remain within the EU.

These remarks will draw ire about the potential confusion caused by a multi-option referendum on the UK’s future relationship. Multi-option referendums on constitutional change, however, are not unusual and have been undertaken in a number of places.

For example, Newfoundland, then a British colony, held a three-option referendum in 1948 to decide whether it should enter the Canadian Confederation, remain under British rule or regain independence. The eventual decision by Newfoundlanders was to enter the Canadian Confederation.

Ironically, while originally it was deemed there should only be two options on the ballot paper, the British government intervened and overruled the convention (the body established to decide on Newfoundland’s constitutional future), and decided that confederation with Canada should also be on the ballot paper.

Indeed, in other parts of the world – for example, in Switzerland – multi-option referendums are a common occurrence.

Most political questions are multi-optional, and while the politicians have had the opportunity to deal with Brexit and failed, the people must now be given the chance to plot the way ahead.

Alex Orr

FOR once I couldn’t agree more with Vonny Leclerc (‘Optional’ school trips are dividing our pupils, November 26). School trips seem to get ever more extravagant as the pupils get older – even if I was a millionaire and the sums discussed were pocket change, I’d still not send my kids on these type of trips. It’s not fair on those that can’t, and it really plays into our consumerism that we must pay huge sums in order to gain experience and enjoy ourselves! Far too often now, just as we see the gulf between the rich and poor in society, it can also be seen in schools, in the exact way that Vonny highlights. Many schools still do not have mandatory uniforms, which means kids come in with the latest and greatest trainers, hoodies, jackets etc. They have to take in phones, and of course those who can take in the latest £1k+ phone.

If your children go to the like of Boys’ Brigade, Scouts, Guides etc you’ll realise they provide weekends away, and guess what? They are a fraction of the cost of a school trip, and as for experience and fun – these top anything the schools give!

The pressures on parents and children is huge. If the government really wishes to close the gap then what better place to start? Cap the total cost for a school trip (who decides to go on a trip to New York anyway – is this a wish list for the teachers who will get paid-for travel and accommodation?), encourage trips to stay within Scotland and mandate school uniforms.

Kenneth Sutherland

WHEN I read Douglas Martin’s letter (November 17) on the unfair press the Freemasons suffer at the hands – the pen – of Kevin McKenna, several thoughts on how the Freemasons fit into Scottish society came to mind.

First was the publicity campaign – or was it a recruitment drive? – on behalf of the Freemasons. I tried to get on the phone-in on Radio Scotland but there was a queue of Freemasons. What brought me to this conclusion was the fact that each caller was vociferous in his praise of Freemasonry – particularly how generous they were and the many charities they supported.

How many times have we heard this? Be that as it may, two more questions crop up. Who are these lucky charities? Where do the Freemasons get the funds?

Secondly, regarding the letter from WJ Graham (November 23), while on a recent visit to Northern Ireland I witnessed an Orange Parade. If Roman Catholics are welcome into the Freemasons, how is it possible for people leading these parades to be wearing an Orange Sash and a Freemason Apron?

Third, I quote Mr Graham again: “There are in fact, reports that the largest Masonic Lodge is in the Vatican”. Would Mr Graham please let us have a copy of these factual reports? Or is this another example of the red herrings that Freemasons feed to us on the rare occasions they decide to go public?

Are we to understand that since the Freemasons’ publicitycampaign, particularly the invite on TV into the Tarbolton Lodge, Freemasons are no longer a secret organisation? That we can now acknowledge our friends and collogues who are Freemasons as being Freemasons? Or are we still afraid to let on, in case we suffer some terrible consequences?

TP McCluskey