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READERS’ LETTERS: Jacob Rees-Mogg is living in a Brexit fantasy

Minister for 'Brexit opportunities' Jacob Rees-Mogg Photo: Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.
Minister for 'Brexit opportunities' Jacob Rees-Mogg Photo: Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.

Sir, – It was not unexpected to note Jacob Rees-Mogg pontificating that there is little evidence that Brexit has damaged UK trade.

The delusions of the government’s new Brexit opportunities minister know no bounds and fly in the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Last week, Westminster’s Public Accounts Committee said trade had been “suppressed” since the UK cut formal trade ties in January 2021, due a combination of Brexit, Covid and global economic problems.

The MPs said it was not possible to separate out the precise impact of each factor, but it was “clear” that Brexit had had an impact, with businesses experiencing additional paperwork and border checks when exporting products to EU countries.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which comes up with economic forecasts for the government, said at the time of the Budget in October that both imports and exports with the EU had been hit by Brexit and that both were on track to end up 15% lower as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

It pointed to research from the Centre for European Reform, which concluded that in October 2021 the UK’s trade in goods with the EU had been 15.7%, or £12.6bn lower, than it would have been without Brexit.

Mr Rees-Mogg may continue to live in a fantasy world where all in the garden is rosy, but in the real world British businesses are being forced to face up to the harsh realities of Brexit.

Alex Orr. Marchmont Road, Edinburgh.

BBC TV’s northern storm coverage fizzled out among ‘complex decisions’

Sir, – A red weather warning was in place 12 weeks ago when Storm Arwen caused significant suffering and disruption to thousands of people in the north-east of Scotland and England, and three people were killed.

Storm Eunice arrived and a red weather warning was in place for parts of southern England and South Wales. Watching UK television news reports one was fully informed of the severity of Eunice. The BBC gave almost continuous news coverage of this storm, and even the Ukraine crisis appeared to have slipped as headline news in BBC broadcasting.

After Arwen, friends living in parts of the country unaffected by the storm advised that the events had received very minimal coverage in national television news reports. Having no power for several days meant that I was unable to watch television.

I contacted the BBC about what I believe was their failure to adequately report a serious and major event impacting thousands of people in Scotland and England.

Those impacted by Arwen may be interested in the reply that I received from a member of the BBC Complaints Team, which stated: “We know that not everyone will agree with our choices on which stories to cover, or the order in which they appear.

“Our news editors make these complex decisions, based on the editorial merit of all the stories at hand. We accept that not everyone will agree with each decision – various factors are at play and there’s often debate in the newsroom.”

Just 12 weeks later Eunice was headline news, yet the BBC chose not to give Arwen similar coverage.

Severe storms impact the lives of people no matter where they live and TV licences cost the same across Britain.

News editors at the British Broadcasting Corporation should perhaps remember these facts when they are debating the editorial merit of news stories.

Fiona McClymont. Camus Place, Craigton of Monikie.

Little repentance over abuse claims

Sir, – The added horror in the payment of £1.4 million in damages to a man (AB) who claimed to have been abused by Christian Brothers monks in the Catholic boarding school St Ninian’s in Falkland, is the agony to which he was subjected when they tried to have the case thrown out on a technicality.

They even deployed an independent forensic psychologist to argue that AB’s memory could be lying to him!

You might have hoped that any genuinely repentant institution would have unhesitatingly thrown open its doors to a full police investigation and done its utmost to compensate with grace and decency.

Neil Barber. Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive.

Natural heritage is best left alone

Sir, –Spring used to be anticipated as a time of hope, with sap rising and creatures coming out of hibernation. Here in Dundee it is a time of dread.

Will the council mowers come before the wild flowers show themselves? Or will the mowers wait for the insects to lay eggs and then do their destruction?

Am I the only person who mourns that our native insects and small mammals and songbirds are in steep decline? Am I the only person in Dundee who prefers life to tidy regimented death of untidy weeds?

Who else knows that weeds are in fact wild flowers, our natural heritage?

Leslie Martin. Glenmarkie Terrace, Dundee.

Pensions entitlement will stay for independent Scots

Sir, – It was sad news that comedian and comic writer Barry Cryer had passed away. Fortunately we have Jill Stephenson to take his place.

All we get from Jill is he said this and she said that and, despite what she claims, not one fact. Jill takes offence at comments directed to her but is quite happy to call anyone who disagrees with her liars.

In 2014 the DWP, in reply to a question from a Scottish pensioner, wrote that it would continue to pay his pension if Scotland became independent.

We then had the minister state to a parliamentary committee that the UK Government would continue to pay said pensions. Of course this flew in the face of what Jill and her fellow unionists had been scaremongering around Scotland, going into nursing homes and spreading the same project fear lies. The minister very quickly changed his tune, no doubt after being advised he had just shot down in flames what unionists had been saying to the people of Scotland.

These were the same people who said we could not keep using the pound and that Scotland’s oil would run out in 18-20 years – both proven to be false.

Jill relies on what government ministers say for her so-called proof – ministers that pledged to keep the triple lock and did not, and are considering doing the same next year.

Enter into the debate Baroness Ros Altman, a distinguished career academic economist who was awarded a CBE for services to pensioners and pensions. A member of the Labour Party, she was elevated to the House of Lords by David Cameron (and kicked out of the Labour Party) and made pensions minister.

The baroness gives an independent and clear view on the subject.

She states that “ultimately, of course, it is hard to imagine that the British Government could refuse to honour national insurance state pension accruals in some way, just as for all expats living abroad”.

Of course Jill and others have claimed that expats (immigrants) are not foreigners but Scots would be, conveniently missing out all those foreign nationals that worked in the UK and returned to their home countries yet still enjoy their UK pensions.

Baroness Altman rightly states that if no agreement was reached the courts would have to decide.

She further states that a financial settlement of some kind seems most likely. She did not comment, as far as I am aware, on the presumption given by Jill that the UK Government would simply keep all the NI contributions made by Scottish workers and donate these payments to rUK pensioners.

Baroness Altmann has, as expected, been berated on social media by unionist trolls for daring to give an independent but expert view on the issue of pensions.

Since unionists constantly inform us there will not be another referendum, why all this supposed concern about pensions?

Stephen Windsor. The Holdings, Kinfauns.

Don’t pass the buck on Scots drug deaths

Sir, – Hugh Reid in his letter to The Courier on February 18 claims that an independent Scotland will automatically eliminate destitution and homelessness in our towns and cities.

My question to Mr Reid is simply to ask why the SNP Government at Holyrood has not done more to solve this problem over the past 14 years while they are receiving so much funding from the UK Treasury?

A prime cause of destitution is drug and alcohol addiction, and as we know Scotland has the worst record in all of Europe for annual drug deaths.

The SNP has allowed this disreputable statistic to occur by its inaction and its choice to prioritise use of funding in other directions.

It is no use for Mr Reid to try to pass the buck for this problem to the UK Government when factually the buck stops with Nicola Sturgeon and her party.

The other unanswered question is when outside of the union, where would the SNP find the funding to take positive actions to improve the lives of those most in need in Scotland?

Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstruther.

Pensioners who paid in entitled to payout

Sir, – I see that project fear agitator-in-chief Jill Stephenson is at it again!

I repeat what I said in previous correspondence. Scots who have paid into the UK pension pot up to independence are surely entitled to get back what they’ve paid in without any negotiation. Douglas Chapman is correct when he says it would be contemptible for the UK Government not to do so.

The figures must be out there somewhere and must be able to be calculated?

Picture the scenario. She decides to move her investment to another provider.

Her current provider responds: “Eh, no, you’re not getting your money back because you’ve moved.”

I’m not sure she’d be happy with that?

She is of course entitled to her opinion, but let’s back it up with some evidence and a wee bit of common sense and stop spreading the fear.

Douglas McCarroll. McKenzie Crescent, Lochgelly.

Nationalists rattled by referendum talk

Sir, – Taking a cursory look at the letters page in The Courier, you can see the usual British nationalist suspects getting a bit agitated with the thought of another independence referendum taking place at all.

Despite every scare story in the run-up to the referendum in 2014 having been proved false, and any promises made not having materialised, we are expected get back in our box and accept what we get to preserve the precious union.

It seems to me that we live in a sham democracy, where nobody is allowed to change their mind, or where your voice is ignored.

We are constantly being told you cannot do this, you cannot do that, despite the fact that the people of Scotland are sovereign, and the claim of rights was reaffirmed only a matter of a few years ago.

The bottom line is that Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with so many natural resources, and is a net exporter (although this has been severely damaged by Brexit which we didn’t vote for).

Could someone please explain why Scotland uniquely cannot be a successful independent nation again when compared to similar ones which have nothing like the advantages we have?

George Dickson. Lynedoch Road, Scone.

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