Defence of Britain should be a priority

© Getty
The new aircraft carrier departs the Forth to embark on sea trials.

Sir, – I can only manage one cheer for the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth which started sea trials this week.

While the Royal Navy’s largest-ever ship is undoubtedly an impressive achievement of British engineering, there is much to be concerned about.

Unlike previous British aircraft carriers which were equipped with British-made aircraft, the Queen Elizabeth will carry the hideously expensive American F35B Lightning II.

Leaving aside questions over its performance, this fact will give the US an implicit veto on how we use these aircraft.

A further problem of buying major foreign weapon systems is that we tend to fall behind other countries technologically with unfortunate consequences for our industry and economy. Aircraft carriers do not operate in isolation but require support ships for protection.

The Royal Navy is down to six guided- missile destroyers and 13 frigates.

Allowing for other naval commitments and ships that are undergoing refits, we lack sufficient support ships to allow one, let alone two British carriers to operate independently; nor can we afford to incur losses in combat.

We have skimped on defence for far too long. The time has come to greatly increase defence spending both to ensure that the Royal Navy has sufficient ships and to develop new weapon systems of our own.

Otto Inglis.
6 Inveralmond Grove,


Take steps to reduce deficit

Sir, – I find it astonishing that the SNP have had the gall to complain about Northern Ireland securing much-needed extra funding above their allocated block grant in a deal to secure support for a confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives and kick-start the Northern Ireland Assembly.

First, the Barnett Formula consequentials are determined by what is spent in England and not the rest of the UK, otherwise large city deals (like Aberdeen following the oil price collapse) specifically targeted to help the local economy would not take place.

But more importantly, it is a bit rich for the single-issue party whose whole raison d’etre is to break up the union (unlike the DUP) to want more money above the £8 billion it would lose if they got their way and gained independence.

If the SNP were serious about independence it would already be taking steps to address the financial cliff-edge we would be faced with, rather than adding to our eye-watering fiscal deficit.

The SNP have not only shelved a further referendum but have lost the economic ability to run an independent country and will continue to haemorrhage support.

Ian Lakin.
Murtle Den Road,


Cut number of pheasants

Sir, – Much has been written of late about the rise in numbers of those who have contracted Lyme disease through being bitten by an infected tick.

The percentage of ticks that carry the spirochetes required to spread the disease has risen from 2% in the 1970s to 6% in recent years.

Research conducted in the late 1990s concluded that pheasants are an effective reservoir for these infective agents and potentially play an important part in their maintenance.

The numbers of pheasants released annually has risen from 20 million to 40 million since the research was conducted.

This gives rise to the distinct possibility that the unregulated release of these birds into our countryside has, by default, also greatly increased the number of people contracting Lyme disease.

It is not enough to simply warn people of the dangers posed by these ticks.

Measures must be taken to ensure the continued rise in numbers of infected ticks is stopped.

Regulating and reducing the number of pheasants introduced annually seems a good place to begin.

George Murdoch.
Auchairnie Cottages,


EU vote claims do not add up

Sir, – In his rather convoluted attempt to justify the SNP’s “clear mandate” for yet another referendum, your correspondent Rod Selbie is guilty, in common with certain officials of the ruling party, of misinforming the public as to the true statistics of the result of the EU referendum in Scotland.

I trust the following will put an end to the nonsense, often stated, that 62% of Scots voted to remain in the EU.

At the time of the poll, although 3,987,112 Scots were eligible, only 2,679,513 chose to vote, with 1,661,298 electing to remain.

It is quite obvious that the latter figure does not represent 62% of Scots voters.

May I respectfully, suggest Mr Selbie consults his calculator. He will find that, if my sums are correct, 42% to remain is much nearer the mark.

This is anything but a “clear mandate”.

Ian Kennedy.
1 Gray Den,


We deserve new EU referendum

Sir, – I am utterly discombobulated. For the first, and I suspect the last time, I am completely in agreement with the Rev Dr John Cameron.

Brexit will be an unmitigated economic disaster for the whole of the UK.

The EU has no interest in giving the UK an easy ride; quite the reverse as they want to discourage any other country from following in our footsteps.

This will mean heavy tariffs on all our manufactured goods which will have the inevitable result of manufacturers closing their UK factories and moving them to an EU country with the equally inevitable job losses.

And all this because of a bunch of insular right-wing Tories.

John Major had a word for them but The Courier is a family newspaper so I won’t repeat it here.

What should happen is that, once Brexit terms are fully known and understood, there should be a second referendum so that the public are not faced with buying a pig in a poke.

And if we get the same result again there will have to be a second referendum on Scottish independence. Westminster has no right to force Scotland to quit the EU.

However, after Theresa May has bought the votes of the DUP for a mere £1 billion I hold out little hope of democracy returning to Scotland anytime soon.

I hope that Ruth Davidson can appreciate the irony of the fact that her party can only stay in power with the support of the a party that cannot shake off allegations of homophobia.

Jim Robertson.
194 High Street,


How much will Tory 13 deliver?

Sir,- With 10 DUP MPs delivering an additional £1 billion for health, education and infrastructure in Northern Ireland, one awaits the enormity of additional riches 13 Scottish Conservative MPs will be able to deliver.

Alex Orr.
77 Leamington Terrace,