Britain holds aces in Brexit negotiations

© Getty
Brexit secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Sir, – I read almost daily articles on the Brexit negotiations and what the EU will do to the UK if we do not agree to their demands like an £85 million payment plus EU courts overseeing EU residents’ rights in the UK.

This demand is nonsense and a ploy to take the light off the main problem at present, the divorce bill which the EU will not document or clarify. I assume this is because the EU has no audited figures to justify the demand. The UK stance at present is we will pay what we are due and nothing more until it is justified and fair.

Business negotiations are complex and a little like playing cards at times. If you hold three or four aces you are in a very strong position.

The UK does on this occasion in the form of huge payments made monthly to Brussels. Should Mr Barnier walk away from the negotiations, the UK needs to withhold the payments until the EU produces an account for the divorce first then drops the demand for the UK supreme court to be subservient to EU courts. Then it is back to the table. The wild card held by the UK are the inputs from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan, all very keen to agree a trade deal with the UK.

The negotiating team needs to get a lot more aggressive (like Mr Juncker) and tell the other side how it really is and walk away with the cheque book until the other side gets a little common sense.

I was a strong supporter of the common market but have never supported nor seen the benefit of the EU as it is becoming very obvious the German-French alliance will damage the UK in the longer term if we do not stand up for ourselves.

George Sangster.


Must-read book for ministers

Sir, – Without wishing to intervene too much in the recent war of words on your letters pages between David Robertson and John Cameron, particularly on the challenging and emotive subject of same-sex relationships, I wonder if I can be allowed to mention an excellent book which deals with this issue?

Written by Jonathan Berry (with Rob Wood) it is called Satisfaction Guaranteed – A Future and a Hope for Same-sex attracted Christians.

It has been described by one church pastor as “outstanding” and I completely agree. It is a wonderful blend of personal story and biblical truth.

Dr Cameron and David Robertson may already have read this book, of course, but if not, I urge them, and everyone who is interested, to put it on their must-read list as soon as possible.

Sheena Leszke.
23 Tayside Crescent,


Levenmouth overlooked

Sir, – We are surely not alone in Levenmouth in struggling to identify any logic whatsoever in current transport policy and, in particular, the complete lack of joined-up thinking and action.

The Scottish Government claims credit for progressive climate action and carbon reduction, yet channels huge sums (£9 billion in recent times) into roads and air travel while starving investment and support for by far the most effective public transport modes, rail and bus.

Huge play is made of aspirations to reduce inequality through fairness and inclusion, yet decisions such as the Edinburgh City Region Deal and the concentration of HMRC staff in new central Edinburgh premises will only add to the overheating of the capital, evidenced by fast inflating property prices, while outlying regions such as Levenmouth in coastal Fife are frozen out.

No approval for new rail schemes has been taken for about 15 years, while further short-term road building is merely adding to ever-growing roads congestion.

Failing to provide mass-transit access for the 50,000 people in the Levenmouth catchment, easily connected by reopening a mothballed five-mile stretch of railway line, not only denies economic opportunity to our depressed community but will exacerbate the economic and connectivity problem of the capital.

Stuart Mcintosh.
68 Kirkland Walk,


Trident a waste of money

Sir, – I was astounded to read that Jill Stephenson was angry at the First Minister wasting the Scottish taxpayers’ money by spending £60,000 on an education survey.

Does she realise that in 2006, the UK Government produced a white paper telling us that leasing Trident from the US would cost approximately £250 billion, which in today’s prices would be £350 billion. Now that is what I call waste.

The SNP are by no means perfect, but they admit that, and always try to improve things for the Scottish people.

We must remember that the SNP are the only party who are not taking their orders from down south and I would like to remind Ms Stephenson that the SNP won the election in Scotland by a mile and we will have independence sooner or later.

Jim Sorley.
29 Grampian Crescent,


Westminster is not working

Sir, – Jill Stephenson (July 28) complains about £82,000 that the Scottish Government spent on consultations which she believes would have been be better spent elsewhere.

Compare this to the Westminster government planning to waste at least £200,000,000 of Scottish taxes every year for the foreseeable future on a Trident weapon system that can never be used. Trident is one of the many reasons why more and more Scots are backing independence.

It is not nationalism, it is a desire for a government that works for Scotland, which Westminster does not.

Andrew Collins.
Ladyburn House,
Skinners Steps,


Dangerous alliances

Sir, – In a time of odd bed-fellows in UK politics, Welsh Assembly ministers should be cautious in their tentative alignment with the SNP in relation to opposition to the Brexit repeal bill.

While views among the public and politicians alike range over the full spectrum of expectation of the worst to the best of outcomes from Brexit, there is likely to be more unity of opinion on not wanting to risk a break-up of the UK following directly on from departure from the EU.

Yet the Scottish ministers taking part in the latest talks in Cardiff are led by a First Minister who resolutely believes that independence transcends all else.

The SNP government primarily considers Brexit as a source of grievance and as a lever to break apart the UK.

That is not an agenda that the people of Wales would support, so those who represent them need to understand the underlying ambitions of those they form common cause with.

Keith Howell.
White Moss,
West Linton.