The people of Scotland voted decisively to remain within the European Union (EU) in 2016. Scottish Ministers continue to believe that staying in the EU is the best option for Scotland, and have published compromise proposals including remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union.
Scottish Ministers have consistently highlighted that the UK Government has failed to engage meaningfully with the Scottish Government since Article 50 was triggered in March 2017, and have repeatedly pressed the UK Government to ensure that a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU is avoided.
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The Scottish Government recommended that the Scottish Parliament should not give its consent to the legislation implementing the revised Withdrawal Agreement (the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill) as there is no democratic mandate for withdrawal from the EU in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament resolved not to provide its consent to the Bill on 8 January.
The National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly both also voted to withhold consent to the Bill. However, it was passed by the UK Parliament nonetheless and received Royal Assent on 23 January to become the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement as implemented in domestic UK law by the Act, the UK left the EU and entered a transition period on 31 January.
Whilst the risk that the UK could leave the EU without a deal on 31 January was removed, the UK Government’s position of ruling out any extension to the transition period increases the risk of an effective ‘no-deal’ scenario at the end of 2020 as there is widespread concern that 11 months is not enough time to negotiate, ratify and prepare to implement a Free Trade Agreement with the EU.
The Scottish Government has made clear its position that as these negotiations progress, it remains absolutely vital that Scotland and the other devolved governments are given a full and meaningful role in shaping the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Work to prepare for the impacts of leaving the EU is continuing, and the Scottish Government will continue to seek to protect the interests of Scotland. The First Minister has chaired regular meetings of a Ministerial group which oversees cross-Government activity to prepare for leaving the EU.
The Scottish Government will continue to prepare for potential future scenarios, including those that may arise at the end of the transition period, and to press the UK Government to ensure that an effective ‘no deal’ outcome to negotiations on the future relationship with the EU at the end of 2020 is avoided.
The Scottish Government was the first administration in the UK to set out a substantive policy response to Brexit in December 2016. This and subsequent analysis is set out in the documents below. The Scottish Government has also recently published an update on its Open Government commitment on Brexit, which is also available below:
- Scotland's place in Europe: assessment of the revised EU withdrawal agreement and political declaration
- Scotland's Place in Europe: assessment of UK Government's proposed future relationship with the EU
- Scotland's Place in Europe: science and research
- Scotland's Place in Europe: our way forward
- Scotland's Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment
- Protecting the rights of EU citizens: position paper
- Scotland's Place in Europe: security, judicial co-operation and law enforcement
- Open Government Partnership blog: The Scottish Government’s open government commitment on Brexit
- Scottish Government overview of ‘no deal’ Brexit preparations