AT this week’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, in her fractious exchange with the excellent Ian Blackford, Theresa May trotted out the same tired old arguments against Scottish independence.

60% of Scottish trade is with the rest of the UK and that dwarfs our trade to the EU. The SNP, despite this, want to put up a border with England. Implication of her argument: independence for Scotland is an act of self-harm, an act of folly. Well, is that so?

Recent figures show Scottish EU exports are actually increasing, so the SNP’s clear desire to avoid Brexit is obviously the best way to protect that encouraging trend. So far, so wrong, Mrs May. Next, the SNP want to erect a border. The EU has effectively removed all physical manifestations of borders between member states with the exception of easily missed road signs. Only the UK seeks to impose borders when we exit the EU.

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A Scotland/England border erected post-Brexit, with Scotland in the EU, will be brought about by the actions of Westminster collectively and shall be contrary to the wishes of the SNP. Looking at the border from the point of view of freedom of movement as opposed to from a trading perspective, again the SNP are in favour of free movement of citizens and Westminster opposes it, often in a nasty, vindictive and cruel manner. Wrong again Mrs May – you want the border with an independent Scotland, not us. It is no exaggeration to say Mrs May is indulging in fake news when she says the SNP want a border.

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Finally, our trade with the rest of the UK – some 60% of our overall trading – would be threatened, hampered or stopped somehow by Scotland avoiding Brexit and staying in the EU. Actually, no it won’t; it will in truth be enhanced. Note all the Barclays Bank and other banks’ cash and all the financial services jobs flying to Dublin, Frankfurt, Holland etc. If we had voted the other way in 2014’s indyref, much, perhaps even a majority, of that finance and employment opportunity would be coming here. Property, private and commercial, after all is cheaper in Edinburgh than in Europe’s other financial cities.

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If Brexit is hard, then there will be an inevitable and permanent slowing of trade through the Channel ports. This represents a massive opportunity for Scottish trade and industry. England must trade with the EU on the best terms they can get. Inevitably, the EU as the larger partner will have the advantage here.

Only knuckleheads like Johnston and Fox thought we would win that one. That advantage will be massive for Scotland if we are in the EU, in possession of the only land border to England/Wales.

If you believe, as even May once said she did, that leaving the EU will harm both Europe and the UK but that the damage will be worse in the UK, then it makes perfect sense that Scotland minimises the harm by staying in the EU, taking full advantage of the trade deal which, as we are finding out now if we didn’t know it already, favours the EU.

If England Brexits (and it now looks like they inevitably will), we must stay in the EU. Let’s get on with it, Scotland.

David Crines

IT now seems obvious to me what Theresa May’s strategy is, always assuming that there is a rational strategy involved. She knows, as we all know, that the EU will not dispense with the Northern Irish backstop because this would require them to break an international treaty they are signed up to, and to undermine the single market which is vital to them.

Therefore, when she supported an amendment which seemed to call for this, and rejected her own long negotiated “agreement” with the EU, her objective must be to force the UK into a no-deal Brexit. There is no other rational explanation that I can see.

Presumably she is trying to extend the period a wee bit by sham “negotiations” in order to gain a bit more time for last-minute preparations for the no-deal cliff-edge.

Should the Scottish Government, Parliament and people just sit back and allow this to happen and then be confronted by the economic consequences, or should we act now, when the situation is clear, to take evasive action? What the Scottish Government could do now is to move to out-flank May and her Brexit cabal. The Scottish Government could arrange for a “consultative” referendum to seek the Scottish electorate’s view on the Scottish Government getting involved directly in negotiations with the EU to ensure that Scotland would remain in the single market for at least a couple of years until a satisfactory UK deal was agreed, or until Scotland had the opportunity to have a referendum on independence.

Such a referendum would be “consultative”, but if positive it would empower the Scottish Government to get involved directly in negotiations with the EU on temporary single market relations between Scotland and Europe in order to avoid major disruption to the Scottish economy. Now who could object to this?

Such a referendum and its likely outcome would not, by itself, confirm that Scotland would be fully independent, but it would build a solid base for independence and it would alter the power of the Scottish Government in the Brexit debate.

Andy Anderson

THE fact that from day one of the Brexit shambles, the SNP has been the only party to say that to protect Scotland’s economy we should be allowed a differentiated deal to stay in the customs union and single market and complete control of immigration policy, appears to have gone right over Helen Sampson’s head (Website comments, February 1).

Douglas Turner