WHEN the campaign to leave the EU began to get serious, it just so happened to co-incide with news that the EU was enacting legislation to clamp down on tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Given that the UK is one of the world leaders in this extremely shady business, any such measure was not popular with the Conservative Party’s wealthy backers, many of whom profit hugely from such activities, nor indeed did it please some of their well-heeled MPs.

Throughout the Brexit campaign there was much mention of “take back control”, “oven-ready deals”, “£350 million a week for the NHS”, but nothing about “save the rich from having to pay taxes". And it was interesting, as Brexit progressed, that the ERG were untypically quiet, leading some to suspect that behind the scenes, the talks were going their way. Once Boris’s deal was triumphantly agreed, it was clear from the silence of the hard-liners that the deal was acceptable.

And once the deal was approved by Parliament at the end of December, the Government announced immediately, but discreetly, that rules on preventing tax abuse were to be relaxed.

What a coincidence! Sovereignty, control of our borders, fisheries? No! It would appear that the real impetus behind Brexit, as had been rumoured, was always to enable the UK and the various UK territories around the world to continue to hide and cleanse dodgy money from the scrutiny and hindrance of the UK tax authorities, and particularly from the new regulations to which member nations of the EU are to be subject.

Les Mackay


YET again, we have another succinct explanation of the 1707 Treaty of Union. And more precisely, where it affects Scotland’s right of withdrawal.

It would seem, however, that this occasioned debate has never been discussed at a level beyond a few lay members of our sovereign nation. In this instance, I refer to David Neilson’s excellent long letter in Wednesday’s Long Letter.

Isn’t it time that an independence supporting member of our parliament raised this as a matter of some urgency? Surely there is someone in there who is, at the very least, familiar with the ins and outs of this now necessary debate?

It must be safe to presume there will be a legality issue attached, given modern law as opposed to that of 1707. However, with David Neilson’s explanation, to which I thoroughly concur, it might just provide sufficient analytical information as a starting point for a governmental researched enquiry for a modern appraisal of the aforementioned legality issues of the 1707 Treaty of Union.

Alan Magnus-Bennett


MAY I thank Scott Egner for his letter on January 5 (“Section 30 isn’t going to happen – time to push for indy election”), urging that the Holyrood election in May should put the question of independence directly to voters.

If I might reassure him on one of his points, I don’t think he need worry about Westminster rejecting a Yes result in that election. No UK Government has ever suggested such a haughty and groundless position on any electoral Scottish vote for independence, and they have always maintained that the Union is voluntary and that Scotland can leave if its people so wish. In point of fact, London has no legal right or power over the result of a Holyrood election (as distinct from its statutory authority to alter the powers of Holyrood by amending the Scotland Act as it sees fit).

The point about such a result is that it would be a lawful, democratic plebiscite of the Scottish people, which could not be gainsaid. The effect of it would be to give democratic authority for independence to the body which does actually have the legal power to make Scotland independent, namely its MPs, who are its supreme representatives, and who could, by majority of their number, secede from Westminster and declare themselves the lawful parliament of an independent Scotland.

For the purposes of independence, that is the power which matters.

It is legal and constitutional, which is strictly sufficient by UK standards, and is made democratic by the plebiscite of the Holyrood election.

Of course, it wouldn’t actually come to such a dry procedure, because London would accept the democratic result of the plebiscitary election, and the details of independence would then be thrashed out between London and Edinburgh.

So Scotland has full legal power to opt for independence if its people so choose, with no role for London in that decision. The S30 process only matters if that’s the way it’s going to go, and it seems pretty clear that it’s not (to everybody except the SNP’s leadership wing, that is). So long as the PM refuses permission for a referendum, S30 is a complete irrelevance. The sooner that obvious truth dawns on the First Minister, and she redirects her plans to the simple long-standing electoral alternative, the better for us all.

Alan Crocket