IT is striking to note Brexiteers and Brexit-supporting sections of the media claim that leaving the EU means that the UK can scrap the so-called “tampon tax”. As of the beginning of the year, the 5% VAT rate on women’s sanitary products has been slashed to zero following the end of the Brexit transition.

During the Brexit debate arch-Brexiter Sir Bernard Jenkin, pictured, the Conservative chairman of the Commons liaison select committee, said: “We will be able to do things like abolish the tampon tax, which so many honourable ladies opposite railed against the Government about, only because we’re leaving the EU.”

However, as is and will continue to be the case with Brexit, such claims are misleading. The UK did not have to leave the EU to end the tax on tampons. In 2016, the UK Government won a pledge from the European Union to be free to abolish the tax – with the Government then planning to do so from April 2017.

Following the referendum result, the timetable got left behind and the issue was not a priority in the Brexit talks. However, in 2018, the European Commission published proposals to abolish the tampon tax, with an implementation date set for January 2022 – just one year away.

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We didn’t therefore need to leave the EU to see the end of the tax – we just had to be patient, or take up the earlier offer. Or alternatively, the rest of the UK could have followed the lead of Scotland, which in November became the world’s first country to make period products entirely free.

The claim that a big success of Brexit is the freedom for Britain to scrap the tampon tax is therefore utter nonsense. It does however serve to exemplify why many such claims of Brexit benefits should be taken with a heavy pinch of salt.

Alex Orr


WHAT is the difference between the English people wanting to leave the EU and being allowed to hold a referendum and Scotland wanting to leave the UK but being denied a referendum? A question asked by Andrew Marr to the Prime Minister. His reply was the usual bluster and highlighted the hypocrisy of democracy in the UK.

The difference is that Brexit is happening for England and Wales but to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We keep hearing from politicians who support the Union of the four “nations” which currently make up the UK that it was a UK-wide vote and the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU is irrelevant.

They fail to mention that the only reason there was a referendum on leaving the EU was to satisfy a vocal minority within the Tory party. There wasn’t a shift in public opinion reflected in opinion polls.

Unlike in Scotland where public opinion has been firmly moving in the direction of wanting another vote, with the last 17 opinion polls showing majority support for leaving the UK on the increase. They fail to mention that the Scottish Government wanted any difference in how nations voted to be taken into consideration but were denied by Westminster with the old “It’s ma baw and it’s ma rules” stance. The argument was that you could not have one part of the UK in the EU and another part not – oh really?

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and has been allowed to remain in the customs union with special rules to help the flow of goods. Gibraltar, although not in the UK but a UK protectorate, voted to remain in the EU. Gibraltar with a population of 34,000 has managed to get a better deal as part of Brexit. Gibraltar has now joined Schengen which allows enhanced freedom of movement for its citizens. Ironically, this means that Spanish citizens can now enter Gibraltar freely, but UK citizens must queue up with everyone else from outside the EU.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU by more than the UK voted to leave the EU. We have voted overwhelmingly for pro-EU parties in the General Elections of 2017 and 2019 so where is our special arrangements?

READ MORE: Scottish independence: Boris Johnson rules out new vote until 2055

It is not credible to say that Scotland cannot have its own special arrangements, but others can. Any border controls between Scotland and England need be no different than has already been established between the Republic of Ireland (EU) and Northern Ireland (UK). This could help boost freight and passengers through Scottish ports – a much-needed boost for the local and national economy.

Scottish MPs cannot vote when English-only issues are brought before the Westminster Parliament, but English MP’s can vote on issues that impact Scotland and outnumber Scotland’s representatives so that the wishes of the Scottish people can be overridden. Scotland voted to remain in the EU and has effectively been told “tough – no special arrangements for you lot”. Opinion polls in Scotland overwhelmingly show support for an indyref2 and we are told “tough – you’ve had your chance”– the hypocrisy of democracy in the UK.

Paul Malloy


GIVEN the delayed arrest and charging of Margaret Ferrier, can we now assume that the same measures in respect of a Mr Charles Windsor and his son, Mr William Windsor are in train, as it were?

Ian Duff