THE EU’s single market exists to protect the four freedoms of goods, capital, services and labour. And soft Brexit is a negotiating outcome for the UK which minimises disruption to our participation in that single market once we are out in less than two years’ time. This, I fear, will prove to be an elusive goal.

My view is that we won’t be in the single market after negotiations are complete unless we accept the four freedoms. For some, the least desirable of the four freedoms, though I see it as just about the best of the bunch, is the freedom of movement of people — freedom to travel, study, work or retire wherever we feel like in the EU.

Professional and trade qualifications have been standardised to facilitate the employment side of all of this. Much work has been carried out too to ensure that EU citizens have full access to healthcare and social care provision within all 28 current countries. The EU will most definitely not roll over and cave in on the free movement of citizens as it would create chaos within the remaining 27 nations. This is because all of them have right-wing, xenophobic groupings poised in wait for just such a crack over this issue to emerge. They will instantly demand the same concessions (or more) as any the UK gets over freedom of movement.

Soft Brexit, indeed Brexit itself, always sounded to me like cherry picking — like this bit a lot, these other two are pretty good, no problem there, so all we don’t really want is that last wee bit. That’s OK with you isn’t it? No, it’s not and the EU will patiently, though for a very short period only, explain that the four freedoms are indivisible and all equally contribute to what the single market actually is. You cannot negotiate any of the four freedoms separately. Get that and get it fully or the negotiations are over.

The dream of soft Brexit is just a mirage. We stay in the EU single market or we leave it. Of course we could try to negotiate towards something like Norway and Switzerland have in the European Free Trade Association. But what is the point of that when you consider that Norway and Switzerland are in the single market, so they fully accept the four freedoms, including freedom of movement, without the slightest hint of exception. EFTA represents all of the costs and only some of the benefits of being in the club. Without democratic participation, I can’t really see why anyone, even softy Brexiteers, would see that as being better than being in the EU. At best, it’s a distant second.

Everyone in Scotland has choices to make. We could thrive in the EU with all the wonderful opportunities for our young and old alike. It could be the safety valve and bring the sense of freedom and purpose that a small independent country needs. A source of educated, young workers, older skilled professionals when our economy is expanding and easily accessible employment opportunities for ourselves in the leaner time. The problem of a lack of young people within our ageing population could be solved easily. And there is also inexpensive, largely hassle-free travel which encourages tourism and retirement opportunities within the whole beautifully diverse EU area.

Full EU membership is the best and the easiest way to safeguard and go on achieving all of this.

Even at this late stage, there may yet be a change of heart in the UK over Brexit but I fear there won’t be a big enough swing back of the pendulum for the free movement of people to be accepted.

We’ll wait and see and, and while we’re waiting, we will also see if Scotland is brave enough and sensible enough to go on its own, if needs be, and remain an integral part of the EU’s future development.
David Crines


Is safety at Faslane as certain as we expect it to be?

AS an ex-Health Physics Radiation Controller, I produced a nuclear report since appearing on BBC news (August 3, 2000), about nuclear safety at HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane after my experience working there, and ending with the story of the five women who had miscarriages in Helensburgh in 2011, in which the MoD said they investigated.

What has been a concern to me, is that the leaders of the main political parties and all other organisations that I contacted, have never given me any support and it begs the question if there was ever to be an external radioactive hazard (God forbid) from a nuclear submarine, would it ever be openly discussed by our media and our political parties?

Recently my local MSP made a request my behalf to the MoD, asking what the present monitoring procedure were for radiation workers, leaving the radioactive controlled areas of the nuclear submarines before going home.

The MoD replied that I had been in contact with them since 2000 and despite attempts to reassure me, I had continued to seek awareness of my concerns by writing to MPs, MSPs and other organisations and agencies. The MoD went on to say that all staff entering controlled areas at Clyde are monitored and controlled in accordance with approved written procedures and our safety management arrangements are subject to external regulation by the Office of Nuclear Regulations.

This all sounds very reassuring, so why then did they have to add extra monitoring equipment (which I was unaware of until a few years later) in the reactor compartment tunnel areas in all the nuclear submarines in 2007, after 40 years without? And why would they assure me that all was okay from 1996 when I knew that it wasn’t?
John Connor
Ex-radiation controller Rosyth/Faslane

I HOPED when I read Kathleen Nutt’s article, (Class ‘still dictates children’s futures’, The National, July 4) that “anti-poverty tsar” Naomi Eisenstadt would live up to her title and produce a report which demonstrated insight into what causes “the attainment gap” in the education system, but I was disappointed. She notes that, “The fundamental fact remains that life outcomes are largely determined by wealth and social class of one’s parents at birth” gliding over many of the reasons for this.

Her categorisation of “the poorest” families assumes that they are an homogenous group of people which, sadly but predictably, fails to address the underlying causes of lack of attainment by many children and young people. Last night’s BBC programme, The Betrayed Girls revealed how so many “vulnerable” girls were exploited and one chief of police admitted that those who were identified represented “only the tip of the iceberg”. Then on last night’s news the systematic abuse of children at the Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey was announced. One of the policewomen who had been recording the abuse since 2004 talked about her anger and frustration that, although every one of the institutions involved in the care of these “vulnerable” children had for years known about, and had reports about, the abuse but did nothing to stop it. It was officially ignored. This scandal is one reason for children from “the poorest families” not achieving academic success and while I am not saying that every under-achieving child is affected, I am saying that it doesn’t seem to have been addressed despite a multiplicity of reports.

So, John Swinney is right to side-step the usual channels and give money directly to head teachers to employ the right members of staff to help neglected and abused children. My only reservation is many rectors and their deputies were promoted by saying the politically correct things at interviews and may not have the mindset to introduce the necessary radical changes to their curriculums and school ethos. There are, of course, outstanding exceptions but even they cannot work miracles against the tide of official indifference that such problems exist.

Perhaps I am misjudging Eisenstat since I haven’t read her report. I hope so. Otherwise the real problems faced by a significant proportion of school children will be swept under the carpet — again and sanctimonious politicians like Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale will feel entitled to accuse the Government of failure to address the attainment gap.
Lovina Roe