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Intro

By The Newsroom
Monday, 30th November 2020, 7:00 am

Aid budget cut will harm UK interests

The cut in the overseas aid budget to 0.5 per cent of national income as announced in the spending review is shameful and a move the UK will go on to bitterly regret.

This is devastating news for the poorest people in the world and breaks the Conservative election manifesto pledge of 0.7 per cent, which it should be remembered is also enshrined in law. It will not only hurt them but will have a real impact on people in the UK as well.

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Such a cut is simply bad economics and will end up costing more than it saves and is bad foreign policy that reduces Britain’s influence and makes us poorer in the eyes of the world.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has committed to an increase in defence spending he claims as being worth £16.5 billion in new money over four years.

Such a move clearly shows the right wing in the Tory party is well and truly in the ascendancy, putting military hardware ahead of helping the world’s poorest.

While Chancellor Sunak may claim that this overseas aid cut is temporary one should remember that income tax was only intended to be a temporary measure, and that was in 1799.

Alex Orr, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh.

Handling of virus needs a reality check

Challenged by BBC's Sarah Smith about Scotland having the third worst excess death rate in Europe, marginally behind England and Spain, Nicola Sturgeon dismisses this fact, implying now isn't the time to consider it. But surely it is?

We are in the midst of a second wave with significant numbers of Scots in intensive care and tragically dying daily. Plus Christmas' relaxation of restrictions could herald a third wave.

With the virus' impact still so serious, shouldn't Ms Sturgeon, with health and lockdown entirely devolved, be focused on what other small European countries have got right and how she could learn from them?

The nationalist leader's self-assured TV appearances have apparently been well received by the public. Perhaps what Ms Sturgeon wants to avoid now, with the Holyrood election not far off, is a serious reality check about her handling of the pandemic.

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Johnson was on right track over devolution

Gordon Brown admits that he and Tony Blair were naïve to believe that devolution would strengthen the Union. So is he waking up at last?

Why not just say ‘Tam Dalyell was right’. The West Lothian question of whether MPs from devolved parliaments should be able to vote on matters that affect only England, while MPs from England can’t vote on devolved matters, has never been answered.

Having a party in power in Scotland that does not want to make devolution work, because all it wants is Scexit, is a disaster for both Scotland and the UK.

Blair and Brown imagined that Holyrood and WM would work together. Fat chance when the wreckers control Holyrood - and pretty much all of Scotland – with their centralisation, cronyism and incompetence.

Scotland and the UK have been damaged by Blair and Brown, and also by Cameron who insouciantly allowed Alex Salmond to choose the terms of the 2014 referendum.

Boris Johnson could perhaps have chosen his words more judiciously when he called devolution ‘a disaster’, but it seems that he is by no means alone in his view

He is not, however, to blame for the mess that we are now in, as a result of the SNP’s constant undermining of the UK.

Jill Stephenson, Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh.