EU talks plan sets “extraordinarily low bar.”
The UK Government is heading for the hardest possible Brexit, either through a disastrous 'no deal' or a basic trade agreement that will cause almost as much damage, said Constitution, Europe and External Affairs Secretary Michael Russell.
Responding to today’s publication of the UK Government’s mandate for talks with the European Union, Mr Russell said its inclusion of red lines on not aligning to EU regulations, and a stated willingness to walk away with 'no deal', was “the worst possible start to negotiations.”
He said the UK Government’s strategy could cost the Scottish economy between £9 billion and £12.7 billion by 2030 compared with EU membership and warned Scotland’s businesses would be hard hit.
Mr Russell stressed the mandate took no account of the Scottish Government’s views on any of the core issues yet explicitly committed to reflect the “unique characteristics” of some UK overseas territories.
Mr Russell said:
“As ambitions go, the UK Government’s goals set an extraordinarily low bar. The free trade deal it is aiming for represents a hard Brexit and is little better than a disastrous ‘no deal’ in terms of the economic damage it would cause.
“The people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, but all attempts to maintain a closer relationship have been completely ignored by the UK Government. In these proposals Scotland is treated worse than Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
“The desire for a Canada-style free trade deal would hit trade, limit the export of services and leave Scotland’s gross domestic product more than 6 per cent, or £9 billion, lower by 2030 than if we had stayed in the EU.
“But the UK Government has today made clear it is prepared to walk away without any trade deal, which could raise that figure to £12.7 billion. That is simply reckless and puts people’s livelihoods at risk.
“The plan will also mean that all Scotland’s citizens would lose the right to travel, live, work and study in Europe and puts at risk access for our young people to programmes such as Erasmus+.
“We will continue to argue for a closer relationship with the EU and will assert our right to align with EU rules where we wish to. We will also consider whether we can take part in future EU programmes in devolved areas, even when the UK Government does not.
“The mandate published today has been drawn up without taking account of the Scottish Government’s views on any of the core issues and will implement a Brexit the Scottish people overwhelmingly rejected. We cannot endorse it. The case for Scotland’s right to choose its own future grows stronger.”
The Scottish Government modelled the likely economic effect of a Free Trade Agreement outside the Single Market and Customs Union, in Scotland’s Place in Europe: People Jobs and Investment