Readers' letters: If we won’t rejoin the EU how about EFTA?

While the UK Government blames the Ukraine war and Covid for the record drop in living standards, the Office of Budget Responsibility claims Brexit is also a factor.

Where Art I? Edinburgh Sketcher (21 November 22)
Where Art I? Edinburgh Sketcher (21 November 22)

This helps explain why the UK has the slowest growth among the G7 leading economies, precipitating a 7 per cent fall in disposable income over the next two years.

The fiscal watchdog estimates that Brexit has reduced trading intensity by 15 per cent while other G7 countries saw a trade recovery from 2020.

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It also estimates an extra payment of nearly £20bn in divorce payments to the EU are outstanding. Furthermore the UK’s loss of exports to the EU has not been recouped by exports to other countries, down 18 per cent on 2019 levels.

This contributes to long term GDP expected to reduce by 4 per cent as a result of Brexit making our economy smaller and the country poorer. While the most vulnerable are protected by inflation matching increases in benefits and pensions, even these groups will be worse off as they spend much more of their income proportionately on food, which has seen price increases of 16 per cent over the last year, far outstripping the 10 per cent uplift.

The Scottish Government needs to redistribute income through tax, with those earning over £100,000 paying the top rate and increase this to 50 per cent. It’s obscene anyone should be earning this level of income when millions are struggling to pay basic bills.

As the UK parties will not reapply to join the EU, they must consider joining the European Free Trade Area or the country will continue to be poorer. This has many of the benefits of an economic union with the EU without being tied to its agricultural and fisheries policy.

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Neil Anderson, Edinburgh.

Scotland is in a cost of Union energy crisis

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Scotland’s lone Labour MP, Ian Murray, doesn’t offer any solutions to the cost of union crisis engulfing Scotland because Labour’s northernmost branch marches to Westminster’s tune (News, November 17).

Take one example - energy costs. UK consumers pay more for their power than anywhere else in the world and within the UK, Scots pay some of the highest bills. This is bonkers.

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In 2021, Scotland generated enough renewable electricity to power all households in Scotland for nearly three years. The problem is that energy policy is reserved to Westminster. Energy prices are set by the regulator Ofgem to benefit private energy companies, not consumers.

The electricity delivered to each home comes from a mix of fuels – gas, renewables, nuclear - but the wholesale price is set by the costliest fuel, gas, ensuring the most expensive producers make a profit.

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A fairer model is to pay each producer their own marginal cost of production, which is far lower for renewables. This would immediately lower prices for consumers, reduce inflation, protect households and businesses and save lives.

Labour hasn’t talked about reforming energy pricing and Starmer has even gone back on Labour’s manifesto pledge to bring energy back into public ownership.

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The Scottish people deserve better than Labour, which is why we must restore our sovereignty.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

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