Bad Brexit deal for Scotland

Independence only way to regain full benefits of EU membership.

The Brexit deal agreed by the UK Government will remove Scotland from the European Single Market hitting jobs and the economy at the worst possible time, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell has said.

Against its will, and in the middle of a pandemic and economic recession, Scotland is being removed from a market worth £16 billion in exports to Scottish companies – and which by population is seven times the size of the UK – as well as the Customs Union.

The Scottish Government will do all it can to mitigate the worst effects of the deal on businesses and communities.

However, Mr Russell said this “hard Brexit” reinforces why it is so important for people in Scotland to have the right to decide their own future and to regain the full benefits of EU membership as an independent country.

Contingency plans already in place include vital measures to help protect health services, the economy and communities.

However, the UK’s deal will still have a profoundly negative impact on Scotland:

  • Scottish Government modelling estimates that a deal of the type that appears to have been agreed could cut Scotland’s GDP by around 6.1% (£9 billion in 2016 cash terms) by 2030 compared to EU membership
  • all goods sectors will face the impact the higher costs of trading with the EU as a result of the additional customs and borders procedures and paperwork. For key service sectors, access to EU markets will be reduced compared to EU membership
  • extra costs could make Scottish businesses uncompetitive in some markets: manufacturing, food and drink, agriculture and forestry are particularly at risk
  • lamb and beef exports will be hard hit by the extra costs of exporting to the EU
  • businesses trying to access UK and EU markets will face additional bureaucracy and costs. For example the seafood sector will require new certificates and changes to business practices to continue to export to the EU
  • justice and security cooperation will be seriously impacted, with Police Scotland and the Crown Office having to use slower and less effective tools in the fight against crime
  • reduced EU migration will also have a significant negative impact on the economy, population and wider society and culture. It will increase shortages in key areas like health and social care
  • Scotland and its students will no longer be able to participate in Erasmus, along with a number of other EU programmes which the UK decided to exclude from the deal. On the key science programme Horizon Europe, while it is included in the deal, the UK government have not made clear the details, including the level of access which will be available.
  • Scottish fishing industry will see only a fraction of the additional quota promised and the compensation arrangements agreed if the UK Government restricts access to UK waters, means that this is control of UK waters in name only

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said:

“A no deal outcome has thankfully been avoided but in the midst of a pandemic and economic recession Scotland is now being forced to cope with a hard Brexit in less than one week’s time.

“Leaving the European Single Market and Customs Union would be damaging at any time but in the middle of the current crisis it is unforgiveable and completely unnecessary.

“We are doing everything we can to mitigate against the consequences of the UK Government’s actions.

“Measures are being taken to protect trade and critical supply chains, to reduce the risks of disruption of goods and people crossing borders and to provide Scottish businesses with the vital advice and information they need to continue operating effectively after 31 December.

“We are also working with UK administrations to ensure patients get the medicines and medical supplies needed and we are also confident that the flow of vaccines will be protected.

“Throughout this entire Brexit process the Scottish Government has sought to engage constructively with the UK Government on preparedness and we will continue, as we always have done, to advocate for the interests of Scottish businesses and of Scottish people whenever possible, but we simply cannot avert every negative outcome.

“People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and have the right to determine their own future rather than face the long-term damage of a hard Brexit.

“Scotland is at heart a European nation, and shares it values. The UK Government has ignored our calls for a continuing close relationship with the EU and it is clearer than ever that the only way to regain the benefits of EU membership is for Scotland to become an independent country.”


Refreshed advice, guidance and support to help all Scottish businesses be ready for the end of transition is available on the Prepare for Brexit website (, including the EU Exit Helpline, self-help checklist, webinars, articles and newsletters.

£30 million funding is available to enable local authorities to tackle financial insecurity over the winter, including extension of free school meals during school holidays.

The Scottish Government’s resilience room (SGORR) will activate to coordinate the government response to the most significant issues arising post-exit.


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