MICHAEL Settle reports that the UK Government has decided that powers, to be repatriated from Brussels to the UK, will be held at Holyrood rather than Westminster as originally proposed, stating that this will “place the centre of political gravity on Scottish matters at Holyrood rather than at Westminster” (“Sturgeon to declare victory in battle for EU powers”, The Herald, February 10).

The “source close to the process” makes clear that the repatriated “powers [will be put] more directly into the hands of the devolved administrations; reversing where Clause 11 actually started from but enabling the UK Government to put in appropriate safeguards to protect the internal market as and when they are required. This is of fundamental importance.”

That statement, and in particular the reference to “appropriate safeguards to protect the internal market” raises a crucial issue as it makes quite clear that the UK Government intends to retain superior powers for the regulation of the UK’s single market.

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At first sight, this may sound only good sense and eminently reasonable, but it is ominous as a single market requires at least a minimum level of uniformity. Yet one of the principles of devolution has been that the devolved administrations are able to act according to their own specific circumstances and balance of political opinion.

An illustration of this is the market for healthcare, which would almost inevitably be included in any trade deal with the United States to allow American companies to operate more easily in the UK as a whole In England, the involvement of the private sector is already more extensive than in Scotland. In 2016/17 there were 386 clinical contracts put up by NHS England and the private sector took 267 of them, including the seven highest-value opportunities, worth £2.4 billion.

In Scotland, however, the private sector is much less involved and, as health is a devolved matter, the Scottish Government would hold a veto on allowing American companies access to NHS contracts.

Therefore, as Gordon McIntyre-Kemp pointed out in a recent article in The National, “the UK Government does not have the powers it needs to negotiate third nation trade deals, unless it takes powers back from the Scottish Government”. Indeed, we might suggest that this is only another example of the Supreme Court’s reassertion last year of the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament and that, “power devolved is power retained”.

Any act by a devolved administration can always be countermanded. Even the Sewell Convention has no legal standing so legislative consent is not essential.

Thus, the caveat in Michael Settle’s report that there would need to be “appropriate safeguards to protect the internal market as and when they are required. This is of fundamental importance” confirms what we already knew.

Rather than placing the centre of political gravity at Holyrood, these proposals do nothing to allay fears of a “power-grab” and, arguably, they only confirm this, even if only to be used by Westminster “as and when they are required”.

Alasdair Galloway,

14 Silverton Avenue,

Dumbarton.

IAIN AD Mann complains (Letters, February 13) about what he judges to be pointless speeches on Brexit by some senior Conservative politicians before these speeches have even been made.

This is just a little bit rich particularly because, in the past, the Remain camp, including Mr Mann, has called repeatedly for clarity from the Leave camp as to its aspirations from the ongoing negotiations.

These are negotiations, not terms being dictated by the victor on the defeated, as Mr Mann seems to believe.

From his comments, his glass is not even half full but bone dry as he believes we will have no option but to roll over and accept whatever terms the EU wishes to impose on us, which in my view is nonsense . Only time will tell who is right .

Alan Fitzpatrick,

10 Solomon’s View,

Dunlop.

THE idiocy of the Tory approach to Brexit was neatly encapsulated by two stories in The Herald February 13). On the one hand, NHS Scotland is trying to recruit desperately needed radiologists from any country in the world (“Health boards scour the globe to recruit new radiologists”).

On the other, Theresa May is determined to make it as hard as possible for EU citizens to enter the UK after the tragedy of leaving the EU (“PM is behind hard line on EU transition immigrants”).

This just confirms that, for her, Brexit is all about appeasing the xenophobia of Tory voters, warding off leadership contenders such as Boris Johnson or the awful Jacob Rees-Mogg and obeying the diktats of her party’s shadowy financial backers, who want to scrap all EU regulation.

The real interests of the British public can happily be sacrificed to achieve these goals.

Dr RM Morris,

Veslehaug,

Polesburn,

Methlick, Ellon.

BEN Wray of Common Weal honestly highlights the potential risks and shortcomings in the proposition that an independent Scotland pursue sterlingisation, adopting sterling without any formal currency union (Agenda: “Not such a sterling idea for justice and sovereignty”, The Herald, February, 13).

Equally, he recognizes that the alternative of a new standalone Scottish currency has its own risks. This would include being at the whim of international currency speculators, which the limited funding of a newly formed central bank would struggle to mount a defence against.

If publication of the SNP’s Growth Commission report is to open up a debate on these matters, the longer term plan will be all important.

Short-term shocks might be overcome but will the SNP leadership be prepared to admit that re-entry to the EU will require genuinely signing up to membership of the euro?

While there have been past examples of EU members remaining outside the eurozone, recent applicants have had to demonstrate they will properly engage not just with the single market but also with the full currency and political union.

The signs are that there will be no flexibility on that from the EU,it would really be taking Scotland after it separated from the UK?

Keith Howell,

West Linton,

Peeblesshire.