Scotland's place in Europe: assessment of the revised EU withdrawal agreement and political declaration

Our assessment of the UK Government's proposed future relationship with the European Union, as outlined in the revised Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.

Ministerial Foreword

Michael Russell MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations

Scotland's Place in Europe: Our Assessment of the Revised Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the EU and UK

In the EU referendum in June 2016 there was an overwhelming majority in Scotland for remain.

In December 2016, notwithstanding that clear remain vote, the Scottish Government put forward compromise proposals to keep the whole of the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union, and if that did not prove possible, for a differentiated deal for Scotland to stay in the Single Market.

Both the vote for remain and those compromise proposals have, however, been ignored by the UK Government. The deal Theresa May negotiated with the EU would have been extremely damaging for Scotland and was rejected on three occasions by the House of Commons.

The current Prime Minister has negotiated a new Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration and in this analysis the Scottish Government sets out the impact of this new deal on Scotland.

In short, the deal means Scotland will be taken out of the EU, the Single Market and Customs Union, all against our will.

The backstop "insurance policy" to maintain an invisible border on the island of Ireland has been replaced by an upfront differentiated deal that gives Northern Ireland greater access to the Single Market than the rest of the UK.

Scotland will therefore not only lose the benefits of EU, Single Market and Customs Union membership, but will also be at a competitive disadvantage in relation to Northern Ireland.

In addition the deal does not "get Brexit done" as formal talks on a future trade deal have not even started. These negotiations are likely to be protracted and difficult with ongoing uncertainty for many years. And if not completed by the end of 2020, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will at that point once again face a no-deal crash out unless an extension to the transition period had already been agreed.

Critically the Prime Minister's new deal implies a weakening of previous commitments on workers' rights and environmental standards, along with other level playing field policies. Not only will this undermine the interests of our citizens, it will greatly weaken the future trade and economic relationship to which our EU partners are likely to agree.

And the ending of freedom of movement of people will damage Scotland's economic prospects, making it more likely our working population will fall and making it harder to recruit the NHS and social care staff we need. And, over the longer term, intensifying the serious demographic challenges facing our country.

The Scottish Government cannot support such a damaging deal. The deal itself, and the treatment of our Parliament and Government over the past three years, demonstrates why people in Scotland must have the right to choose their own future rather than having that future imposed by a Westminster government and Parliament which has ignored Scotland's interests for far too long.



Back to top