JULIA Pannell’s long letter on May 29 has certainly started a debate! Although I do not always agree with her, I believe that she had every right to stand by her principle of wishing to leave the EU. I also, however, regret that some of the comments since have been unnecessarily aggressive.

I firmly believe that those of us who wish for independence need to listen to and then debate, in a calm, courteous manner, the opinions of those who do not agree with us, if we are ever to change views and win converts for our objective. To retaliate with anger and harsh criticism merely antagonises and strengthens the opposition. Much better to listen and instead explain our alternative views in a calm and logical way. So today, when Ms Pannell claims to have had no answers to her questions, I will try to do just that.

First, honouring the 2016 vote. In advance, we had no proposed plan for how to leave the EU or to deal with the aftermath, only hopes and aspirations, and the EU, or immigrants, being blamed for any unpopular Westminster decisions. Think pounds and ounces changed to kilos, now known not to have been compulsory unless voted in here. Also, the margin of win was slightly less than from a larger turnout in 1979 for devolution, not considered enough to be “the will of the people”. Theresa May has begged MPs to change their minds and vote differently every a few weeks after finding out the details, while we are denied that chance after three years. Democracy?

To the EU, then. To the best of my knowledge, CETA is an agreement with Canada and TTIP was the one being negotiated with America, voted down by the EU Parliament, precisely because of the conditions insisted upon now in Trump’s proposals for a Brexited UK; that public services such as the NHS be included, that the definition of Scotch (and other protected products) be reduced to allow US versions into Europe, that food standards and protections be relaxed and that US companies whose profits were impacted by EU legislation be able to sue the relevant governments.

Anent Greece, their problems were mainly due to treating tax avoidance as a national sport – should this have been condoned by giving easy terms at other countries’ expense? Other “ill-treated” countries either cooked the books for entry or created their own problems by their own decisions. With Catalonia, the EU has been restricted by its own constitution which demands that there is no interference in the internal disputes of a member country unless it is asked for by some person or group from that country. I believe that the Catalonian case has only recently been referred thus to the EU, who will now have to consider it, and in any case, the EU showed what support they could by refusing the arrest warrants that Spain demanded. In addition, the so-called exit payment is actually only payment of contributions legally contracted by agreement before the decision to leave.

Finally, the EU may have been unwilling to change for David Cameron when he was a lone voice with little evidence of the whole UK being behind him, but I believe that has almost certainly changed now. With the experience of Brexit, change will be infinitely preferably to another bout of such total chaos.

While our opponents may categorise such disagreements as that caused by Ms Pannell’s letters as splits in the independence movement, for me they illustrate the wide range of views within a movement with one common aim – independence, and such debate can only be helpful if it remains calm and reasoned. I hope Ms Pannell will continue to allow us to discuss her views through your newspaper.

P Davidson

HAVING been reluctant to get involved in the long lasting debate over the views expressed by Julia Pannell, reading her last contribution (Letters, June 7), I must make a comment.

She states, regarding the EU, “we cannot alter the EU from without, but we have done precious little from within over decades”. I must point out that the reality is that Scotland has no voice in the decision making processes of the EU, as we are not a member state.

Such influences are, as far as we are concerned, in the hands of the various representatives of the Westminster Government. If the attitudes displayed by the UK Government’s representatives over the last three years are anything to go by it is easy to see why their influence has been minimal.

George M Mitchell