News

Scotland’s voice must be heard

Published: 04 Mar 2020 17:18

Cabinet Secretary updates MSPs on EU talks.

The UK Government risks “breaching the basic premise of the Union” in EU-UK negotiations if it fails to respect the Scottish legal system, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell has warned.

In a statement updating the Scottish Parliament on the Brexit negotiations, Mr Russell said the Scottish Government and Parliament must be involved in deciding the UK negotiating stance on devolved matters such as fisheries, the environment and justice, as well as the many other issues that will affect Scotland.

He added that the UK Government was intent on a hard Brexit which “will result in the people of Scotland being worse off financially, cut off practically and turned off politically from the European mainstream”.

Mr Russell said:

“Devolved issues such as agriculture, environment and fisheries will be at the heart of these negotiations. As the legally and politically responsible body this Parliament and this Government must be involved in deciding on what stance to take.

“The UK Government must respect and take full account of the Scottish legal system – our separate courts, prosecution system and police. To fail to do so would be a breach not just of convention, nor even of the devolution settlement, but of the basic premise on which the Union is founded, for that includes protection for our legal system.

“No-one speaks for us, and no-one speaks about us, without us.

“We are now entering an even more difficult phase of the Brexit process which, if handled the way the UK Government proposes, will have severe negative impacts for the vast majority of people in Scotland. I continue to urge the UK Government to move back from its current aggressive rhetoric and ideological obsession with a very damaging hard Brexit.

“But I also urge this chamber to speak up for Scotland and put differences aside to do so.”

Background

The Scottish Government will shortly introduce the Continuity Bill into the Scottish Parliament. This would make it easier for Scotland to keep pace with EU regulation in devolved areas, if it chose to do so.

Scottish Government modelling indicates that a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU could cost the Scottish economy between £9 billion and £12.7 billion by 2030 compared with EU membership. No deal would raise this figure to £12.7 billion, equivalent to £2,300 per person. The modelling is published in Scotland’s Place in Europe: People Jobs and Investment