BRITISH politicians can’t always get their own way, says Lesley Riddoch (The National, February 7). Wrong! Westminster aka English politicians from the English Parliament have learned for the first time that their “innate sense of absolute entitlement” is a myth and they are not getting their own way.

After strutting the world in Rule Britannia mode their “bounds” have foundered on the continent.

It is salutary that in these times of constitutional change and reorientation the English have hit the rocks. How they mocked in 2014 at the Scots referendum and used the EU, for example Barroso from Portugal, to malign Scots and warn that our place in the EU could only be guaranteed by remaining in the OK UK! Now the UK is KOed by the EU and Westminster has been belittled and its pompous presumptions brought down to Earth.

That should embolden us north of the Tweed for indyref2. The great Westminster has been levelled and put in its place.

The body language and facial expressions between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker on February 7 at the PM’s latest sortie to Brussels to renegotiate the backstop showed her to be the loser!

The hallowed pantomime mimicry that passes for serious debate, carried over from the English Commons pre 1707, has been shown to be hot air and not for the 21st century.

The underling status of the Brexiteers vis-a-vis the evolving EU has been revealed. Theresa May has been “sent home to think again”, or at least to come up with serious proposals after having voted herself against the Withdrawal Agreement she first negotiated, or in reality had to accept from the EU – which always will have the final say!

The insular and inward-looking tomfoolery that passes for politics at Westminster is passé!

It has, however, been salutary for the EU, which went along with Cameron and co in 2014 to realise that they backed the wrong country! All those from the continent who supported Westminster then will have to rethink their ideas totally. Scots voted to remain in 2016, so in the next indyref2 one would expect the EU to acknowledge the strong pro-Europe and EU orientation in Scotland. That will “learn” them!

The Anglophiles on the continent need to refocus and become “Scottophiles”. It is never too late to realise you have made a mistake! The hitherto use of England to mean Britain by continentals is surely a thing of the past now.

But crowing apart, it is good that this scenario has come about. They – the English – have been “found out” in this Brexit debacle!

All many of their politicians have done is to blame the EU for not giving in to their demands.

The world has moved on. It is the English, Westminsterite model that is now the abnorm in a country that saw its institutions as being the norm against which all others should be assessed.

Now that Theresa May has said a backstop of a sort will remain, a weird unsubstantive term to say the least, the revolting DUP and ERG will cause havoc!
John Edgar

THE way I see it with Brexit, the only deal in town is a customs union – that will solve the Irish border problem and hopefully save businesses. The trouble is it splits the Tory party. The other trouble is Corbyn’s Labour are no credible opposition. It is a truly fine mess. It’s like driving ourselves into a dead-end cul-de-sac or being in Brexit revolving doors. This is what used to lead to wars. The main Tory chancers are like crazy cartoon characters – Cruella de Vil, Mr Evil … One of the Leave campaign’s strengths was the absence of any real plan except “take control” – either through ignorance or incompetence or deliberate design – which meant there were no details for the Remain voters to pick holes in. Leading Brexiteers never gave a thought, or didn’t even realise that the UK has a land border with the EU! They even have the nerve to suggest Ireland leaves the EU! It was the Tories in the first place who created Northern Ireland, now coming back to haunt them, it seems.

If they had produced an 800-page book on what leaving the EU really meant and all the details of different Brexit options, this would have made it clear how complicated and crazy leaving really is. Why should the SNP, or Labour MPs, for that matter, vote to save the Tory party? What should happen is some kind of People’s Council to decide what’s best for the country – and it’s not these quarrelling MPs who should be making that decision.
P Keightley

THIS week high street hire-purchase mogul BrightHouse announced that it is to close 30 of its stores. Among the reasons cited are new caps on interest imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which will come into effect in the new financial year. Only two of these branches are in Scotland – Perth and Stirling. Before I go on, I would like to extend my sincerest commiserations to the staff in both shops who are facing redundancy and I wish them every success in their pursuit of new employment.

Speaking personally, I am pleased that as of late March, BrightHouse will no longer have an outlet in either Perth or Stirling, both of which are popular shopping destinations for Strathearn residents. The BrightHouse model of hire-purchase is infamous. Interest added to monthly payments for goods procured from BrightHouse can reach as high as 99% before the item is paid off in full, forcing vulnerable consumers already struggling on low incomes into debt and poverty. Sadly, if the fridge or cooker breaks, low-income households all too often have no choice but to use BrightHouse as they cannot readily access low-interest credit and/or will likely not have savings set aside to make a purchase from a conventional retailer. Being realistic, the closure of BrightHouses in Perth and Stirling will not erase its influence from either; indeed, for reasons already stated, consumers may be forced to use its online service or access branches in settlements including Dundee and Falkirk (or possibly further afield).

The forthcoming FCA interest caps on hire-purchase goods is of course a welcome development, however, it is important that we address the factors that drive vulnerable consumers to agents like BrightHouse in the first instance. A major step is to make low-interest credit more readily available to low-income households. There are already some fantastic initiatives in place, such as local credit unions, which have been a lifeline for many vulnerable families. For some households both hire-purchase and high-interest credit are compatible with their financial circumstances. They must not, however, be the default for low-income households who need to urgently replace a broken appliance or purchase a computer or smartphone to maintain an online Universal Credit claim or risk being sanctioned. Accessible low-interest credit must be among the defining characteristics of monetary policy in an independent Scotland.
Andrew Scobie
Branch convenor, Strathearn SNP

YET again, I believe there is a knee-jerk reaction to Scotland’s fairly bad public health, with the great idea of taxing drivers, and a bit of a forlorn hope that a workplace parking levy will do anything to alleviate that.

Has anyone stopped to think about people who don’t just use cars on a whim, but out of necessity? Try to work shifts in the middle of the night and travel home to rural areas using public transport – good luck with that, you would have to build the bus as well as use it.

Hopefully rural car users will be exempted from such a levy, even those who work in the day, or at least those who travel in from rural areas. After all, we don’t have a choice in using a car. Perhaps the Scottish Government could do something more to tax townies who use cars when they don’t need to, who already are tax-exempt on their little runarounds.
Julia Pannell

SO the estimated costs of the extension to the Edinburgh tram fiasco has now broken the £200,000,000 barrier. No doubt the actual cost by the time it is completed will be nearer to £300,000,000 despite promises to the contrary. Maybe some of the advocates for the scheme could tell us why modern, possibly electric, buses could not do a similar job at a fraction of the cost, and if the £200,000,000 figure includes interest to be paid on the presumably borrowed capital sum. Nae wonder Edinburgh needs a tourist tax.
Brian Lawson

LIKE Mr McCracken (Letters, February 7), I too cannot see how a Glasgow Queen St – Glasgow Central, direct connection is cost effective, and I also concur that future long- distance regional train services should be able to traverse/bypass the existing Glasgow travel bottleneck with ease.

In turn, I am sure that Mr McCracken would agree that the Glasgow Central to Ayrshire train route is an excellent example of a multifunctional route, conveying local, regional and international sea/air traffic, subject of course to further flood proofing.

Its exemplar functions would be enhanced by the addition of an affordable new Paisley shuttle to Glasgow Airport, effectively connecting with Paisley as the airport rail hub of choice.

In addition, an underground shuttle route from Glasgow Airport, north to a new Dalmuir Rail hub across the River Clyde, for rail connection to the north-west, east and north-east should also be looked at.

The result of having shuttle routes to both north and south of the River Clyde is a new Clyde crossing, enhancing both local economies, and encouraging greater local rail use generally.
Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

HAS anyone considered building a spur on the Argyle line at Yoker across the Clyde through mostly farming land and directly into the airport?

This would provide a direct connection to Glasgow City Centre and beyond.

Kenneth Young Edinburgh I READ in Friday’s National that Nicola Sturgeon had attended a “Scotland is Now” reception in Ottawa, and thought I would write my first-ever letter to the papers to say that this could be the best slogan I have seen so far – what do others think?
Caroline Campbell

I SEE the Tory Party has held another of its obscenely lavish fundraising events (Davidson’s stock plummets as Tory goes to auction, February 8). Among the items on offer was “a private cinema experience with Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd” – presumably the screening of I, Daniel Blake on a loop ...
Mo Maclean