Michael Russell: ‘Scottish interests must not be swept aside.’
The outcome of this week’s EU talks demonstrates why the UK Government must urgently reverse its decision to shut Scotland out of the negotiations Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell, has said.
Mr Russell said that for Scotland, Brexit could now be even worse than first feared - with jobs, trade, living standards and vital national interests all at risk.
“This week has shown that Scotland is not being treated as an equal partner.
“For the next phase of talks Scottish interests must not be swept aside as they have been so far. The Scottish Government must play a meaningful part in the UK’s negotiating position.
“The EU guidelines for the next phase of talks show precisely why remaining within the Single Market – the world’s most valuable market-place and around eight times the size of the UK – must be put back on the table.
“Because of the UK Government’s own hard Brexit red lines the EU have today made it absolutely clear they will only offer a basic trade deal which we know could cost each person in Scotland £1,600 a year compared with EU membership.
“And today they have said even that will be dependent on maintaining current rules for the fishing industry. Is it all pain for no gain. The Scottish fishing industry is facing a massive sell-out because of the total failure by the UK to keep its promises to them.
“The UK Government has agreed to a back-stop arrangement on Northern Ireland, and the only option that is currently on the table would in effect keep Northern Ireland in the Single Market for goods and the Customs Union even if the rest of the UK leaves.
“We fully recognise the unique circumstances there, but Scotland cannot be left at a competitive disadvantage – and if it is possible for one part of the UK to effectively remain in the Single Market and Customs Union then it must be possible for others too. We have produced detailed proposals to keep Scotland in the Single Market and they must now be taken seriously.
“The UK Government has so far failed to live up to its firm commitment to ensure the Scottish Government and other devolved governments oversee the negotiations and agree objectives and outcomes. We need to move beyond words to firm commitments. Scotland’s interests must be protected.”
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