I READ with interest about Scotland being ranked second in the world for countries to visit by Rough Guides (Scotland named the second-best place in the world to visit in 2017, The National, January 2).

Some time ago, I had an idea which could raise Scotland’s position to number one.

The Forth Rail bridge was over-engineered when it was built to reassure a nervous travelling public after the Tay Bridge disaster.

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It could easily support the weight of a light railway-type construction which would go over the top of the structure. Transparent pods, like on the London Eye, could sit on a monorail construction and would provide an amazing view for passengers.

Scotland could have the longest rollercoaster in the world.

If the cost of actual construction is thought to be too high, the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation have now produced digital 3-D scans of the bridges so virtual fairground rides could be made.

Maybe this could be in time for the opening of the Queensferry Crossing. Crowd-funder anyone?

Elspeth Hobson
Kirriemuir

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Brexit challenges can’t be met with a skeleton staff

THE resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers and appointment of Sir Tim Barrow as the UK’s new ambassador to the EU has highlighted wider strains in Whitehall between some mandarins and some ministers, up to and including Prime Minister Theresa May (Rogers exit row set to rumble on as May moves to install Barrow, The National, January 5).

It has also reinforced the dearth of talent there is in terms of serious multilateral negotiating experience in Whitehall, a situation reinforced in Sir Ivan’s departing email.

This is not the case in the European Commission, which is well-versed in multilateral trade matters.

Indeed, according to Sir Simon Fraser, the former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, an initial government review has revealed that Whitehall has only 20 “active hands-on” trade negotiators. They will be up against 600 experienced trade specialists for the European Commission.

The coming trade negotiations are painstaking line-by-line, sector-by-sector work, and the current lack of capacity requires the UK Government urgently to bring on board skilled negotiators from outside Whitehall.

The UK will also have to boost its staff in Brussels to prepare for the Brexit negotiations, as well as increase staff in embassies, as it fights to make the UK’s voice heard in a new competition with the EU, the US and other countries.

If we are to make the best of Brexit we need to have the personnel in place able to argue the UK’s case and get the best out of a challenging situation.

The stakes are high, but the UK Government must rise to the challenge, and do so quickly.
Alex Orr
Edinburgh

BREXIT means more and continued austerity, reduced migration and reduced links with the people of the EU all being applied generally, though unevenly across Scotland. That is why a further indyref potential was not only highlighted in the recent SNP manifesto, but also why the Better Together campaign during indyref1 made promises that Brexit would not happen if the people of Scotland voted No to greater self-determination.

The continued application of austerity to the poorest, despite the promises of ConDemSlab that Brexit would not occur, is clearly opposed by at least 60 per cent of the people of Scotland.

But what is acceptable as an alternative? This alternative is what indyref2 needs to present coherently over the next few years to the people of Scotland, rUK and the EU.

The crowing of ConDemSlab over the most recent oil price collapse, and how it adversely affects the people of Scotland, raises the following question.

If in the future, we envisage that we would mainly use oil and gas as feedstock for chemical-based products, but not generally burn it up for energy, then how would we generate the necessary power, and to what currency would we reference it to, if not the US dollar, that oil and gas are currently tied to? If the people of Scotland vote for greater self-determination largely due to Brexit then Brexit becomes further defined, as England leaving the UK, and substantially leaving the US oil dollar reserves.

Having already left the gold standard, leaves the Brexit pound in potential freefall.

The choice of currency for Scotland in the future is therefore, clearly not the Great Brexit pound.
Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

I DON’T like Michael Fry. He might not be a Conservative any more but he still is a conservative with a small “c”. (Independence is much further away than it was just before Christmas, The National, January 5). He states, as a fact that recently the Scots showed a “marked aversion” to holding another independence referendum, but that’s simply not true. What is he doing?

Firstly, to the best of my knowledge, there wasn’t an opinion poll held for indyref1.

Secondly, that referendum galvanised politics in Scotland and led directly to the creation of The National and it just happened to be a poll of opinion in Scotland.

It came out 45 per cent for and 55 per cent against.

The internal pressure for us 45-ers is mounting to an intolerable level as we watch the lie machines and the weasel worded friends of Unionism slowly mount their forces.

The blatant lies are much easier to deal with after the disgraceful displays of Better Together and EU Out, but the weasel phrases are more difficult.

Michael said: “The first, (of two indicators), was the opinion poll showing a marked aversion among Scots to holding another referendum in the next 12 months.”

Weasel words. Category one!

I don’t ever want to see them in The National! I’m blazing.

The poll to which Michael refers scores it 50:50!

That’s a five point improvement Michael, not a “marked aversion”.

In my opinion, indyref2 should be declared a microsecond after Article 50 is delivered.

The loss of the rules, regulations, laws and human rights that have not only protected Scots and Scotland but forced the Westminster Government to allow the creation of the Scottish Government in the first place is simply unacceptable.

It is 50:50 now but Westminster and Michael already know it will be 60:40 for independence.

They are resigned to it but it won’t stop their weasel words.
Christopher
Bruce Taynuilt