First Minister letter to Prime Minister on EU withdrawal

Urgent clarity sought on transition arrangements.

The First Minister has written to the Prime Minister to seek clarity on plans for a transition arrangement as the United Kingdom leaves the EU. The full text of the letter is set out below.


As you know the people of Scotland did not vote to leave the European Union and the Scottish Parliament has made clear on a number of occasions our cross party opposition to your proposals to leave the single market and to end freedom of movement.

Despite our position I welcomed the indication in your Florence speech that you would be seeking urgent agreement on a transition period of two years as a sensible step forward in Brexit negotiations. I have been of the view for some time that in the event of Brexit a transition period is essential in order to allow businesses and governments across the UK and beyond to manage the profound uncertainties of the Brexit process.

However since then, and particularly as a result of your comments in the House of Commons on Monday, the clarity of your intentions, and thus the confidence of business that there will be a sensible transition period agreed quickly, has been seriously undermined.  This relates in particular to your comments suggesting no transition can be agreed, or formalised, until there is agreement on the future relationship.

I am therefore urgently seeking your assurances that you are committed to rapidly putting in place transition arrangements that will meet the needs of business.

Given the differences in recent statements both from you and from those ministers with responsibility for Brexit I believe absolute clarity of the UK Government’s aims in this regard is required and would be welcomed.

Can you confirm that:

  • You are urgently seeking agreement on a transition arrangement of at least 2 years, with the aim of securing that agreement by the end of this year;
  • this will be based on the current structure of EU rules - a steady state transition;
  • that you are not making your agreement to such a transition conditional on agreement before March 2019 on the detailed terms of the future relationship between the UK and EU?

I am increasingly concerned by the possibility that your negotiations may result in a “no deal” scenario. The Scottish Parliament gave a clear view this week that a no deal situation would not be acceptable and I believe that if the UK finds itself in  that position, that no Brexit would be preferable to no deal - or indeed a bad deal - and that each of the Parliaments in the UK must have the opportunity to take a view on that.

I look forward to your urgent response and clear assurances you can provide to business that you will deliver the certainty promised in Florence.



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