I CANNOT understand Theresa May’s apparent ignorance of British parliamentary systems in her dismissal of the request from the Scottish Government in relation to a section 30 agreement (“Now the gloves are off”, The Herald, March 17). Unlike Westminster, the Holyrood Parliament is elected on a proportional representation basis. This means that political parties closely represent the wishes of the electorate, and that a majority vote in parliament must be regarded as representing the wishes of a majority of citizens. Is this not what a mandate is?

However, Mrs May has been either careless or cunning. Her actions have in effect passed the ball to Scottish Labour in front of an open goal. Since 2014, Scottish Labour has been accused, often unfairly, of putting party before country. Now it can redress this at a stroke. Mrs May’s actions can be seen as a direct attack on the PR system, on the Holyrood Parliament, and on democracy itself. Scottish Labour can show its commitment to the Scottish electorate by supporting the call by the SNP and the Greens for a section 30 agreement (thus distancing themselves from the Tories) while retaining the right to its Unionist position in the actual referendum. Why suggest this is a cunning ploy on the part of Mrs May? To continue with the football analogy, we all know what happens to strikers who miss open goals. It can end their career.

D. MacRae,

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38 Marchfield Avenue, Paisley.

SO now we know how the Prime Minister really regards Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon has spent months on the day job, seeking to get Theresa May to listen to her concerns for Scotland, and all her offers are ignored. Westminster is heading for a collision with the rest of Europe, and has no proposals to advance. Her Cabinet minister, David Davis, admitted as much, blithely it would appear.

Nicola Sturgeon moved to break the deadlock and Theresa May has now said “not at this time”. In the confusion one salient point is being overlooked; Mrs May says that there will be too much negotiation going on and that Scotland can just wait. These negotiations are due to the fact that hard-right Tories have never accepted the EU, nor expected the Leave campaign to work. The pressure is on them to negotiate, and Scotland will just be onlookers as our future is decided in their incapable hands.

Mrs May will not agree to a referendum, and “at this time” means “No”. The self-inflicted pressure is on her Government and Scotland has no place in that situation while we watch helplessly.

As the Tories splutter our future away we should devote our efforts to independence, nothing else will work.

Jim Lynch,

42 Corstorphine Hill Crescent, Edinburgh.

SOMETIMES it seems as if Scotland is the only country in the world that is not allowed to defend its own interests or exercise its right to democracy

All 27 of the other EU countries will be able to exercise their decision on any deal done when the UK leaves Europe – including countries as small as Latvia, Estonia and tiny Malta (size 16.8 miles x 9miles) which held a referendum on EU membership on March 8, 2003 and joined the EU on May 1, 2004).

Uniquely Scotland with more than ,1000 years of history as a nation and an allegedly modern democracy is not allowed to.

I rest my case.

Susan Grant,

Mansfield Cottage, Scotsburn Road, Tain.

DAVID Mundell considers that an independence referendum in autumn 2018 to spring 2019 would not be fair because “if you are saying you want the referendum because of Brexit, then you have to know what the arrangement is that the UK has secured in relation to leaving the EU and how that has been delivered …”. So, it is fair for the UK to leave the EU on the basis of a referendum where no-one knew what the arrangement that the UK would secure in relation to leaving the EU was, but unfair for Scotland to leave the Union on the basis of a referendum where no-one knows what the arrangement that Scotland would secure in relation to leaving the UK would be.

In his eagerness to dismiss the SNP’s call for an independence referendum his argument undermines the legitimacy of the Brexit referendum.

Kenneth Brown,

16 Turnhill Drive, Erskine.

WHY do Theresa May's comments on a second referendum remind me of an Ogden Nash poem "Grandpa is Ashamed: "A child need not be very clever/ To learn that "Later, Dear" means never"?

Ronnie McLean,

6 Blackadder Place, East Kilbride.

IN 2007 I was one of those who saw the arrival of an SNP administration in Scotland as the chance for a reset on a stagnant polity, a chance for new ideas on how Scotland should be run. It is now some 10 years since those days and the true colours of the movement elected then are now clear and stark. It is a fundamentalist authoritarian ideology which will brook no answer but the one it seeks. It will use democracy when it suits and subvert it when it doesn’t.

I oppose Brexit with all my heart but Theresa May was correct in her carefully chosen words that no meaningful vote in Scotland can be held without knowledge of the outlines of Brexit. We now know too that, whatever the SNP might say, we would exit both Britain and Europe should it win a vote. Brexit is merely a fig leaf of an excuse for another referendum. The promises given when the last one was given were a farrago of lies.

As it becomes clear that the SNP no longer cares for or respects a British polity ratified by the people of Scotland in a clear and decisive vote then it is truly time for all of us who truly care about freedom, liberty and democracy to stand up and say “enough”. I am a passionate Scot, my life has been spent working in and for Scottish culture. But I do not recognise what my country is becoming. And I fear for it. It is no longer a time for silence but a time to fight and stand for the values and freedoms which we have done so much to propagate against the harsh and intolerant bray of the separatists.

Hugh Andrew,

Managing director, Birlinn Ltd,

West Newington House, 10 Newington Road, Edinburgh.

SCOTLAND does not meet the EU accession criteria for new member states. The most recent GERS accounts show that public expenditure outstrips tax revenues by £12 billion per year (£15bn if you include capital expenditure). That is more than three times over the limit set by the EU. Scotland would have to make huge cuts to public spending and/or huge increases in taxation in order to meet EU limits on budget deficits.

Furthermore, membership of the EU is not for free. Scotland will be expected to pay £5bn per year for the privilege. That £5bn has to be added to the £15bn of budget deficit and so an independent Scotland will have to find £20bn per year in cuts and/or taxes in order to have its membership of the EU. It is likely that any government which imposed such savage cuts to services and/or crippling tax hikes would be massively unpopular and very soon out of office.

All of which explains why the SNP is pushing desperately for a second referendum before the UK has completed its Brexit negotiations. Its want to have the vote first because it knows that Scotland will not qualify for admission to the EU if it has to apply like any other prospective member. Its leaders think that a referendum before Brexit is complete will hide that grim fact from the people. They will keep up the pretence that Scotland is not actually leaving the EU, despite the fact that Scotland has never been a member state. They will pretend that Scotland will not have to apply for admission and therefore will not have to meet the admission criteria.

But the reality is that the EU criteria are there for a purpose. They are there to keep out countries with flabby economies which might turn out to be a costly burden to the EU. The EU has enough problems already with struggling economies - Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain - it does not want another one. There is no way that Scotland will be simply waved through if it cannot meet the criteria.

The SNP strategy is cynical and self-serving. It is driving forward with its independence project on the basis of false assurances and misinformation. It pretends that joining the EU will be immediate and automatic, but must know that it could be a long and gruelling process lasting years. But if its referendum succeeds, Scotland could end up split off from the UK and stuck in a queue outside the EU. That situation would be a recipe for hardship and civil unrest. That is the gamble which the SNP is taking - a huge gamble with the security and well-being of the people of Scotland, the very people it claims to put first.

Les Reid,

28 Morton Street, Edinburgh.

IF you do not understand someone, you have little hope of ever changing their mind. The trouble with focusing on stirring grievance, ignoring those who do not agree with you, and imagining you are morally superior to everyone else is that you become blind to what matters to them.

Those who long to break away from the UK should not underestimate the determination of the rest of us to stay. Scotland in the UK is not just a country it is our home. All of it. Scotland and the rest of the UK. It is where we live out our lives with our families, friends, colleagues and the customers of the businesses we work for. So many have valued these deep seated relationships through the course of generations. Seeking to break this up threatens the very core of who we are.

Keith Howell,

White Moss, West Linton, Peeblesshire.

THE pantomime season has started.

Oh yes we will.

Oh no you won’t.

Dr Joseph Fell,

2 Barcapel Avenue, Glasgow.