MY friend Michael Russell MSP is right to urge Scottish Parliamentarians “not just to think of the days to come but of the generations to come” (Sunday National, January 13). However he is wrong to recommend that SNP MPs should be part of a movement for a second European referendum.

It was always my belief that the duty of membership of the SNP and the burden of leadership within our party was to secure Scottish independence and pursue Scotland’s interests. Some will say that a second referendum which retains our EU membership may arguably be in Scotland’s interests in the short term, but as Michael succinctly states our parliamentarians have to think for the long term. What is missing from Michael’s exhortations in your report is the word “independence”.

Michael surely owes it to all the foot soldiers of our movement and the wider electorate to explain how supporting a second EU referendum advances the cause of independence. Without a majority in Westminster agreeing to a Section 30 Agreement there cannot be a repeat of a second Scottish independence referendum using the Westminster model. Does Michael have a signed vow from a majority of MPs that if the SNP lends its votes to a second EU referendum our Parliament will be granted a Section 30 Agreement on our terms?

We all have experience of “The Vow”, so at the very least we would want some constitutional lawyers to peruse it, but preferably not the ones recently employed by the Scottish Government given the Alex Salmond debacle.

Or maybe it’s the case that we support a second EU referendum just to “do the right thing”, and the opportunity for a second Scottish referendum should not be a condition of support. In other words, independence should play no part in the process for now.

I voted to remain in the EU as I believed on balance that it was in Scotland’s interest so to do. I also have believed that every meaningful vote made by an SNP parliamentarian must advance the cause of independence and their actions must undermine the British state. I continue to be content for now to give the First Minister the space to decide when she should call the second independence referendum, though I would like some clarity as to how this will be achieved without a Commons majority and/or the global powers’ acceptance of the result.

But there is an even more important issue which we face which I am surprised that Michael is comfortable to put to one side, and that is the principle of the sovereignty of a people. Of all things which SNP members hold dear, the sovereignty of the Scottish people is inviolate. That principle is in our DNA and extends to our approach to the rights to sovereignty of all people. So how can the SNP MPs deny the English people their sovereign right to leave the EU, however much we regret the decision they made? In a close vote, SNP votes may produce a majority vote for a second EU referendum against the vote of a majority of English MPs.

There may be some nationalists who would relish that event, but whatever the result of the succeeding referendum any pleasure would be short-lived and we would get embroiled in the nastiness which a divided and broken society would generate.

It has been said by more than one SNP MP that it is justified for the SNP group to vote for a “People’s Vote” because the English (and presumably a significant minority of Scottish voters) didn’t know what they were voting for, they were lied to etc etc, and it is in Scotland’s interest to ensure an economically strong neighbour, and that Scots would be less inclined to vote for independence after the trauma of Brexit. Brexit or not, trauma and chaos will be at the heart of the British political establishment for some time. It is the responsibility of the SNP leaders to give our people hope, support and a vision and the confidence to vote for independence, and not panic into some contorted notion of realism.

I hope the SNP MPs will reflect on the justification for voting for a second EU referendum because it assumes that they know that millions of English (and Scottish, Welsh and Irish) people voted the way they did whereas I would content that it is arrogant for anyone from one country to assume the reasons why people of another country voted how they did. The English people are not thick. There can be hundreds of individual reasons how people vote and these may not be just a neo liberal economic one. Furthermore it declares that we know better what is good for the English than they do and that’s why we’ll interfere. Was that not the approach of the British Empire to its colonies when we shared one?

I have even heard an SNP MP declare that a vote to hold a People’s Vote is not part of a strategy for independence. Shouldn’t all votes made by our SNP MPs be made to advance Independence and undermine the British state? Perhaps they think the English political establishment is doing a rather good job of that anyway. If so, why intervene?

The final fallback excuse is that as we are still part of the UK we are entitled to vote in a matter which impacts on Scotland. The answer to that is this. If there had been a narrow Yes vote in 2014, and during the period between the vote and the independence date there had been a concerted campaign amongst a sizeable part for the Scottish electorate for a “People’s Vote” to reconsider the vote, and Westminster had considered legislating for it, what would these same SNP MPs’ reaction have been?

The SNP MPs should abstain from any attempt to have a People’s Vote on the EU. If they don’t, that decision may come back to bite them and the whole independence movement.

Meantime they should be considering how we implement the sovereign will of the Scottish people and secure Scotland’s independence out of the chaos of a post Brexit Britain , in, out, or half in and out.

Graeme McCormick
Arden, by Loch Lomond