THE mainstream media have been focusing on two themes of late.
First, the UK having little or no difficulty in negotiating satisfactory trade deals with the countries of the EU after Brexit and, conversely, how Scotland’s cross-border trade with the rUK would evaporate overnight, were we to remain a member of the EU.
During the negotiations, Theresa May might find that even the deepest bowing and scraping, with no genuflection too low, yields only the briefest of responses, amounting to no more than two words, the second of which will be “off” in a variety of different languages.
But, have no fear, dear friends. 
An independent Scotland would not turn its back on the rUK in its hour of need. 
After all, we have given the UK everything, from troops to television to tennis champions.
They can still trade with us and in the not too distant future, when the need arises, we will supply water for your kettles and energy for your storage heaters, maybe even at “mates’ rates”.
The one thing we will NOT give them is parking space for their weapons of mass destruction.
Joseph G Miller
Dunfermline

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Budget blunder a real worry ahead of Brexit deal talks

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THE furore among the Tory ranks down south (not in the north as there are no ranks here, just one MP) over the tax on “white van man” must not deflect from the real problem, and that is crass incompetence and lack of attention to detail in evaluating the impact of policy change and its political ramifications.

How did Number 10 fail to realise it was making such a faux pas when dealing with its own side?

As the Westminster government, on the basis of a mandate only from England and Wales, goes into talks based on “Brexit means Brexit” and no more, what we must fear most is further crass incompetence in its dealings with the other EU countries and the EU institutions.

If the supposedly steely-eyed May and her three Brexit ministers, who all contradicted each other last weekend in the media, can muck up a low-key budget, what can they do in Brussels, especially when May has stated categorically that no deal is better than a “bad” deal?

Having given away a key point at the outset, when she originally stated there would be no running commentary, is a bad opening gambit, especially when the final word will lie with the EU.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a man used to spouting imprecise phrases, has maintained that leaving with no deal would not be “cataclysmic” for the UK economy. He did not spell out what non-cataclysmic would be in detailed terms. What we do know is that the “deal” would not be as advantageous as current membership of the EU – there will be no perks! Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she will seek permission to hold a second independence referendum puts Number 10 under more pressure as it will be occupied on two fronts on a constitutional matter.

The English mainstream media only focus on the Westminster end of issues, but that is about to change.

After mistakes like Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget, which must have had approval in principle from the Cabinet, one wonders how May and co really operate. If Hammond is a lone wolf, then chaos reigns in Downing Street.

Bad omens at the outset. What faux pas will they make when in Brussels? We may watch with eager glee the unfolding drama after Article 50 has been invoked.

John Edgar
Blackford

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THE Budget laid bare the hypocrisy of the Tory Party. Their claims of wanting to lower taxes were shown to be the usual hot air when the Chancellor broke their manifesto promise by increasing national insurance for the self-employed.

So much for being the party of enterprise.

The reduction of the dividend allowance from £5,000 to £2,000 is being seen as a stealth tax on savers and those who rely on their savings. So much for the Tory Party helping pensioners.

Before the 2010 General Election, George Osborne unequivocally said Tory plans did not include an increase in VAT. After the election they increased VAT to 20 per cent. They also hiked tuition fees up to £9,000, introduced taxes on hot food and caravans, and introduced the bedroom tax, affecting some of the poorest people in society. This slippery behaviour is also evident in Scotland where, of nine councils the Tories are in administration, seven have set a council tax increase at the maximum level allowable of three per cent. I can understand why local authorities would raise council tax to pay for services but it doesn’t say much for the Tories’ fake rhetoric of being the party who will lower taxes.

In Scotland, they seem to think think they can treat people as mugs and get away with it. Maybe Scotland will have a message for the Tories in May that they don’t appreciate sneaky tax rises – and keep them out of control of Scotland’s councils.

Andrew Stuart
Glasgow

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ARE Mondays designated good news days at The National?

A headteacher making the kids run is shown to be beneficial and goes viral, the first graduates from GCU’s African Leadership College finish their courses, kids in the isles are going to use smartphone microscopes to gather data on plankton diversity for a research project and Scottish manufacturing growth is up while it declines in England.

I’m starting my week with a smile on my face and feeling good about my country. Well done people, excellent newsgathering.

Peter Ashby
Broughty Ferry

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ALEX Orr’s comments are, as usual, generally well-judged, but I wonder whether it is strictly correct to use the term “slave” for some of the people who were transported to the colonies for political or criminal offences? For example, in Barbados most of the white people deported against their will were not regarded as slaves but as indentured labourers.

After a period of time (from memory, possibly seven years) they were set free and given a small plot of land on which they could live if they chose.

There are villages on the island where the descendants of these white prisoners live to this day. Similar arrangements existed in the southern American colonies and while some returned to Scotland after completing their term, many remained and even rose to prominent positions.

No such option was on offer for the African slaves, save in very rare cases of a benign “owner”. Their circumstances were uniquely degrading and the shame of that revolting trade should never be forgotten.

Peter Craigie
Edinburgh