SIR Vince Cable has stated that the UK Government does not have a “very strong hand” in the negotiations with the EU. Wow! That is a surprise. Serious observers identified that scenario in the months before No.10 activated Article 50.

As a supplicant, soon-to-be ex EU member, trying to get a deal, all the EU needs to say is “non!” Just as General De Gaulle did to Harold MacMillan in the early 1960s.

The four freedoms within the EU are its raison d’être for the single market and customs union. That is the best deal! All the diving and ducking, name-calling and slurs hurled at Michel Barnier and his team by the Westminster side do reveal the silent “skrik” or panic, as depicted in Edvard Munch’s painting, that is beginning to form within the UK Government as post-Brexit reality dawns.

As the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have now indicated, they will oppose the Brexit bill. Where does that leave the opposition parties at Holyrood and Willie Rennie in particular? He has been very stumm lately.

Where do the UK branch parties at Holyrood stand on the issue of opposing the projected power grab by May’s minority regime? Or do they just sit and accept anything from their precious Union?

Powers at Holyrood are above the parties! One suspects the “branch parties” are reluctant to stand up for Holyrood because the SNP are in Government! They were the most reluctant at offering real powers during the Smith charade and sat back at Westminster when the English blocked real powers. It is ironic that the SNP in Edinburgh and Welsh Labour in Cardiff are making common cause with joint statements and actions to preserve and promote the power and status of their respective legislatures.Where stand the “branches” at Holyrood on this issue?
John Edgar

I AM delighted that Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is to address the Scottish Parliament’s EU committee. Perhaps if this is successful in giving the committee a proper insight into the underlying reasons for the stance being taken by the EU then Michel Barnier should be invited to return and address the Scottish Parliament. In addition to the MSPs, all of our MPs and MEPs should be invited to attend.We have a right to be informed.
Thomas L Inglis

‘HANG your head in shame’: Nicola Sturgeon blasts Ruth Davidson for Brexit hypocrisy” and “War of words in the Commons as Scottish Tory and SNP MPs clash over Brexit” The National, September 8.

Not a good day for Ruth Davidson, the honorary colonel has discovered that her leadership of the Scottish Tory Party is also an honorary position when it comes to her influence on the real Tory Party. When at last her dumb dozen in Westminster launched into action it was not to support returning powers over farming and fishing to Holyrood but to question the sovereignty of the Scottish people. Brexit is being dictated by the Brenglish Westminster Parliament and the colonials will have no say whatsoever in a matter of such great importance.
John Jamieson
South Queensferry

CRITICISM of our Westminster Government and its response to the deadly effects of hurricane Irma has been widely circulating, including in your pages, over the last few days (Irma set to devastate Florida as ‘unprecedented’ hurricane sweeps through Caribbean, The National, September 9). For a government which loudly proclaims itself as one of the world’s greatest powers this is truly abysmal.

Am I not correct in thinking that, with all the electronic wizardry available to us, any worthwhile manager would have been able to make a pretty accurate estimate of the potentially disastrous effect which this hurricane would have on these very vulnerable island communities at least five or six days before it struck?

Surely at that point the decision should have been taken to load up several of these large aircraft with the necessary supplies, tools, personnel and equipment and either get them on to the islands about to be involved, or at least have them standing by on friendly soil nearby ready to move in at the earliest opportunity.

Sadly this is just another indication of the extremely poor level of ability of the present Tory Government to think and plan ahead for an upcoming scenario.

Is it any wonder that their Brexit planning is virtually non-existent and their appreciation of the disastrous consequences which this is going to bring upon us all just does not seem to register with them.

I am sure an independent Scotland would have been able do a much better job with vastly less resources, and of course with no governmental responsibility for the desperately suffering islands to at least help the residents to begin to recover from the dreadful misery in which they now find themselves.
George M Mitchell
Sheriffmuir, Dunblane

A TRAILER on Radio 4 this morning (Sunday) announces a series of programmes, Monday to Thursday, aiming to examine the nature of Englishness, with some reference at least to Orwell and, by the sound of it, some contribution from Billy Bragg. I wonder what the chances might be of a similarly-serious examination of Scottishness on Radio Scotland? I don’t think I have to wonder at all: hee haw would be the obvious answer.
Colin Stuart
Saline, Fife