IN 1979, the Scotland Act, which was intended to give Scotland a measure of devolution, was repealed as the result of a referendum. There was a simple majority in favour of the Act but the Cunningham Amendment required the majority to be at least 40% of the registered electors. Although a simple majority had always been accepted as enough to appoint a government, it was argued by Cunningham that the vote should be subject to the sort of minimum that would be necessary in most organisations for a constitutional change.
This move was seen by many as a bit of party gerrymandering but the argument was accepted as valid and so the Scotland Act was repealed. The 2016 referendum was concerned with a much more far-reaching constitutional matter, whose complexity was grasped by very few people, but no such Cunningham limit was applied.

As a result, 37.4% of the UK electorate voted for us to leave the EU. This result is frequently referred to as “the will of the people”. To expect consistency from Westminster is obviously as unrealistic as to expect veracity.

Peter Dryburgh

THE often-repeated mantra of the right-wing Leavers in Westminster is: “We must honour the democratic will of the people.”

Many people in Scotland will remember the first referendum on Scottish devolution when Prime Minister Callaghan decreed a minimum of 40% of registered voters were needed for a win.

A total of 37.44% of registered voters in the EU referendum voted to leave. 16 and 17-year-old citizens whose futures were being voted on, were not included.

Hedge funders and others with a vested interest poured millions into the Leave campaigns to support the fake news and outright lies which bombarded the electorate. Why did they consider this a good investment?

Could it be that the EU is considering better control of the excesses of these investors who, 11 years ago, played a significant role in the collapse of the world economy?

Such regulation is necessary to protect the majority from the horrors of another 2008 but would never be pursued by a far-right Tory party so reliant on funding from this area. Freed from Europe, is this what we now have to call “the will of the people” aka democracy?

Mike Underwood

THERE is a common misconception, often repeated in these pages, that the United Kingdom is somehow composed of more than two nations.

This is not true.

The United Kingdom was formed as a union between two nations – Scotland and England – and if Scotland votes to dissolve the Union, then there will be no remaining United Kingdom.

What would remain would be just England, or perhaps a “Greater England” which would incorporate Wales and Northern Ireland, or England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But there would be no United Kingdom.

Unfortunately Wales and Northern Ireland have no legal claim to nationhood and are only, to all intents and purposes, regional appendages of England.

Solomon Steinbett
Maryhill, Glasgow

THE headlines over Brexit and deal or no deal in the UK or Anglo media are indicative of crisis in England not “Britain”, as the media suggest. Theresa May calls Brexit failure, ie if Westminster fails to pass her deal, a breach of trust. The Brexit vote showed a diverging UK.

The glib catch-all term “British” is fading fast and what we see in reality is an England in inner crisis. The largest nation in the “precious Union” is riven and floundering.

Its Westminster processes are deadlocked and its boasted “conventions, precedents and rules” are in tatters due to their inner inconsistencies and arbitrariness when dealing with this self-inflicted existential crisis.

The House of Commons is trying to fix a treaty problem or issue as if it were an internal policy measure. Hence, everything is back to front.

The amendments, and specifically the new “Bercow “ precedent, are causing strife because these matters, the minutiae of the withdrawal deal, should have been at the outset settled.

But Theresa May was insistent that No 10 did not want to show its hand to Brussels! So, in effect No 10 conducted a secret treaty hidden from Westminster, MPs, the Cabinet, the devolved governments and other national stakeholders.

The results are now for all to see. MayHem!

The crisis within the House of Commons among English MPs is where the division power lies. The UK result, if one focussed on that, did not imply May’s deal or no deal. In reality, the separate nations of the UK voted in different ways.

The Scots need to have their vote respected as do the Northern Irish. In England, which confuses Britain and England, the strife is between its MPs and the government with an undercurrent which is causing a crisis of identity in the English shires and cities.

Used to getting its own way, it has been shown to have had no real influence in the dealings with the EU over withdrawal. Hence infighting, rancour and incipient thuggery in some quarters towards MPs who support remaining in the EU. 
It is an ugly scenario south of the Tweed and the English are lashing out at themselves within and across the duopoly divide. One can only conclude that the sum total of Westminster is no longer fit for purpose. In due course the Anglo-parties at Holyrood will come to that conclusion soon enough.

John Edgar