I HAVE been reading with some concern commentators heralding the fact that the Scottish and Welsh Governments are set to “block Brexit” through opposing the Repeal Bill (“Sturgeon told not to ‘hijack’ Brexit as legal crisis looms”, The Herald, Juy 14).

This argument has been promoted because the Brexit Bill requires an accompanying legislative consent motion (LCM) at Holyrood, as departing from the European Union impinges upon powers – such as justice and agriculture – which are devolved.

However, an LCM does not amount to a block on Brexit and the Scottish Government has never claimed it had a potential veto over this process.

Loading article content

The LCM builds upon the Sewel Convention, which is just that, a convention. Westminster is and remains sovereign and MPs can legislate as they choose, including in devolved areas.

In its weakened state it would however be politically damaging for the UK Government not to work constructively with the devolved administrations. Let it also be remembered that Prime Minister May said she would not enter the Brexit negotiations until there was a UK negotiating position that had been agreed with the devolved administrations.

The Scottish Government will be more inclined to consent to the Bill if it is granted a real role in the Brexit negotiations themselves, with a place in the UK negotiating team, perhaps with a seat at the top table when devolved matters are discussed with the European Commission.

For the UK Government not to take account of the desires of the Welsh and Scottish Governments in these negotiations would be politically suicidal for the Tories. The key question is, is this a risk it is willing to take?

Alex Orr,

77 Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh.

I FIND it disingenuous of David Mundell to declare his interest in having “sensible dialogue” on the transfer of EU laws to the UK. He states that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will offer Scotland a “power bonanza’”, yet he carefully avoids specifying what that rich mine of nuggets will contain. His counsel of “wait and see” and “it will be alright on the night” is not persuasive, particularly after his performance in relation to the substantial sums promised to the Democratic Unionist Party and the implications thereof for Scotland. More than once he has given the impression of being the UK Government’s man in Scotland and not Scotland’s man in the UK Government.

I also find it difficult to understand the feigned shock and disbelief in certain quarters in relation to the fact that many of those who were against Brexit (the terms of which were somewhat inexact at the time of the referendum) are now taking the opportunity to make the actual process difficult, if not impossible. I view the current opposition as neither surprising nor objectionable. The fact that such opposition is now more powerful and vocal, as a result of the recent General Election, is down to a serious political miscalculation by the Conservatives.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road, Lenzie.

CAROLE Ford (Letters, July 14) generously suggests the creation of a “new benefit called Transitional Pension Entitlement, or similar” to address the problems created for Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) women by the variation of pension entitlements by the Westminster Government. She even suggests that the Scottish Government should “pay it on a sliding scale based on individual accrued loss … a simple algorithm based on date of birth would generate the payments. Simple.” Oh, yes, very simple. Rather in the same way that the new Deputy Prime Minister, Damian Green, brayed at Stephen Gethins on Question Time when this matter was raised, that “you have the power, why don’t you legislate?” However, pensions are not a devolved matter and as such there is no reflection of the resources needed to pay “Transitional Pension Entitlement or similar” in the block grant, for, not being devolved, it will have no relevance for its calculation.

Of course, it will be objected, Scotland has powers over income tax, or at least earned income tax (so, not interest or rents and so on). But how many cruelties such as the treatment of the Waspi women can be recompensed by a Government whose control over taxation is restricted to part of a single major tax, known to be particularly toxic for the political future of any government? The consequences of the bedroom tax have been ameliorated in Scotland by our Government. If we add the Waspi women to that list, who or what will be next? As is noted in Funding Devolved Governments: Fiscal Devolution, Public Services and the Social Union, one of whose authors is Professor Adam Tomkins MSP, the current form of fiscal devolution “provides only limited scope for the Scottish Government to raise significantly greater revenue than the present arrangements, even if it were to increase tax rates significantly”.

As Iain Macwhirter perceptively wrote in March 2015 on the proposal (as it was then) by the Smith Commission to devolve welfare, “the idea on welfare, if there was one, was to give Scots enough rope to hang themselves. If they want to start paying more in benefits above UK levels, well let ’em pay for it”. Ms Ford’s contribution is little more than a practical example of this.

Without the necessary tax powers that I don’t see argued for in Ms Ford’s letter, her suggestion of a new benefit would simply be a quicker route to, as Mr Macwhirter points out, hanging ourselves.

Alasdair Galloway,

14 Silverton Avenue, Dumbarton.

MUCH unexamined use has been made of word usage in recent letters about voting results and cognate matters, as witnessed by discussion of "overwhelming" and related terms.

Frances McKie's otherwise fascinating epistle (Letters, July 13) illustrates well the assumption that support for independence will always be expressed as a "Yes" vote. It was my impression that it was agreed on all sides that a feature of referenda must be fairness, and it is generally recognised (despite the September 2014 result) that positivity will almost always trump negativity.

If these propositions are valid, I challenge the SNP to recognise that in a second independence referendum, assuming it happens, it's the turn of the Unionists to be able to say Yes, and that therefore the question next time must be along the lines of "Should Scotland remain an integral part of the United Kingdom?"

Anything else would be unacceptable political one-upmanship.

James McIntyre,

Bonnaughton Road, Bearsden.