I am 65, and French. 1971 was the first time I came to Britain as an au pair. 1973, my first time as a French assistant in Scotland. A lifetime as a European citizen, travelling back and forth between my two countries. 40-odd years working, politicising, volunteering, paying my taxes, raising my family in Scotland.
My daughter marched too. She has two passports. She will remain, therefore, an EU citizen, while keeping her rights as a British national to live here. I, on the other hand, may have to face whatever bureaucratic nightmare this Tory Government will throw at people like me. That is the reality of NOT being in the EU.
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On March 29 Theresa May sent her fateful letter to Donald Tusk. All the while, Brexit’s unintended consequences are becoming exposed. The pound has already lost 20 per cent of its value pre-referendum. Business chiefs are predicting long queues of lorries at ports, increased customs checks at airports. We now know that trade deals will not start until the EU is satisfied first about the divorce terms. Collaborative European cancer research is reportedly in chaos, at least for the UK scientists involved. The 12000-odd EU regulations will be replaced by a monarch-like Prime Minister: that means existing food standards and regulations will be scrapped to be replaced by unknown Westminster-led (minimal) regulations with as yet non-existent monitoring bodies to safeguard quality. Current air control and pollution regulations, environmental protection, all scrapped to be replaced by Westminster-led ... you get the picture. And that just the tip of the iceberg.
There are people on the left, like Cat Boyd, who dreams to “junk” the EU, talks of the “horrors of the current European Union set-up” (The National, March 28). She explains away the fact that 62 per cent voted to remain because, I quote: “voters do not understand the complexities of the EU, they tend to follow authority figures from the party they trust.” In Scotland, except for a few piddling Tories, all elected politicians backed Remain, enthusiastically.” So, pro-EU voters, you are basically ignorant and follow like sheep those politicians who, in their “Holyrood bubble” enthuse about Europe.
I think this is a dangerous and divisive talk. It is dangerous to suggest, even flippantly, that politicians live in a “bubble”. I do not believe for a minute that our MPs are there for the money. Most of those elected in 2015 had good jobs before. As for MSPs, I think that most of them are pretty hard working, and quite a few rose from the ranks of local politics.
Yes, the EU is a complex, abstract, alien entity for a lot of people. The fact that many folks feel confused about, or downright hostile to, the EU, could just be the result of years of misinformation and lies from a rightwing, xenophobic British press, compounded by a lazy British media.
Perhaps the only benefit of Brexit is that more people are now familiar with the intricacies of the EU. Perhaps more people are now noticing how many big infrastructure projects and social inclusion initiatives are receiving European funding, not mentioning farming and fishing subsidies.
I cannot quite believe that some 2014 Yes voters would be ready to vote No next time because they dislike the EU so much.
Is the EU so bad? What harm has it done to us?
Do we want a confident Scotland at the heart of Europe, paying our part and shaping policies? Or do we want to stay on the fringes? What kind of country do we really want?
Dr Mireille Pouget
Workers’ rights are already a distant memory
HANDS up if you work in retail or any other big corporates. This may ring a bell. Could you stay an hour later than your normal finishing time (unpaid)? Could you come in early (unpaid)? If you live nearby, could you “pop in” for an hour or so as we’re short-handed (unpaid)? Could you change your shift at short notice? If the answer is “No” to any of the above you are accused of “disloyalty” to the firm, or not being a team player, or letting down your colleagues.
If we go on the loyalty thing, what happens when you request time off, flexible attendance, or to reclaim time owed or – God forbid! – to be paid for the hours you actually worked! You’re treated as a bloody nuisance or have your card marked as one of the “awkward squad”. Seems “loyalty” is a one-way street.
As a 70-year-old I have observed with sadness the gradual erosion of hard-fought-for workers rights. The gradual introduction of a 24/7 society has made time-and-a-quarter, time-and-a-half and double time for unsocial hours a distant memory in many industries. Now it appears there are no unsocial hours. Whether your shift finishes at 5pm or 5am seems not to matter. The capitalist mantra “Yur lucky yur in a joab” seems all pervading, but not to worry, it’ll all be better when we live in Theresa’s New Jerusalem after the smooth negotiations are completed.
Just remember to duck when the low-flying pigs come past.
I WAS delighted to read that the EU’s draft negotiation guidelines over Brexit include acceptance of continuing the Common Travel Area agreement, which allows free travel between the UK and the Republic of Ireland (Irish travel priority for European Union while row with Gibraltar looms, The National, April 1). Since the British Government is on record as wishing to avoid the return to border controls with the Republic, this is good news indeed.
It also disposes of the old canard that an independent Scotland would require strict border controls with England. A moment’s thought would establish how absurd that would be, when travel to and from England via Ireland remained unrestricted. Any restrictions on direct travel would therefore be pointless, not to say Kafkaesque.
I hope this issue is now put to bed.
I UNDERSTAND Dot Jessiman’s frustrations completely (Letters, April 1). The economic case has not been made. Why not? Much reliance is being placed on the SNP Growth Commission but I don’t see its job as making the economic case.
We have GERS, but its flaws are quite apparent despite a well expressed defence by the Fraser of Allander Institute. It would appear that genuine figures for Scotland’s income are not available. But look at Norway, Denmark with similar population sizes and Iceland (pro rata) and it is not conceivable that Scotland, standing on its own, would be so different. Further, if Scotland is so dependent on a subsidy from rUK, then why not just let us go and be wealthier as a result? Possibly because with overall income and oil there’s actually a hidden benefit to rUK from Scotland?
PARDON me if I’m being irretrievably dense here; but I’ve been assuming that the process we’ve just seen – an independence referendum being requested after passing a vote in Holyrood – would be that set out in the conditions under which the Scottish Parliament was established. Since Westminster alone established these conditions, logic suggests that the request, if duly passed in Holyrood, must then be accepted by Westminster. Unless, that is, the Tories have rewritten the Scotland Act without telling anyone.
I WAS most intrigued by the article in Saturday’s National by Flora Pilo (Dons’ new mascot is an ‘ethereal noise’). I think this is a wonderful example of conceptual art the merging of extreme sporting endeavour with inspiring music.
I intend to suggest to my local football team, Beith Juniors, that the 3pm kick-off be accompanied by the beautiful otherworldly strains of Ba Ascending.
Beith, North Ayrshire