Scotland's place in Europe: assessment of UK Government's proposed future relationship with the EU

Our assessment of the UK Government's proposed future relationship with the EU.

1. Introduction

1. The UK Government has reached an agreement with the EU on the terms of withdrawal and outline of the future relationship.

2. Under current EU and UK Government plans, immediately after 29 March next year, the Withdrawal Agreement would be Britain’s only legal agreement with the EU. The deal consists of the Withdrawal Agreement, an international treaty between the UK and the EU which sets out the terms of the UK’s departure, and the political declaration on the future relationship. The former is over 500 pages of specific provisions, the latter is merely an aspirational statement of intent for the crucial further negotiations. In contrast to the certainty of membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union, the declaration provides no reliable detail and clarity on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. What it does contain suggests a far diminished partnership, one that will leave this country and its people poorer.

3. The Prime Minister has promised that this would not be the case[3]. She said that by the end of 2018 there would be a full agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and the detail of the future relationship. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has consistently promised a deep and special relationship which meets the needs of all parts of the UK. Neither promise has been delivered.

4. Throughout the course of the negotiations, the views of the people, Parliament and Government of Scotland have neither been reflected nor respected. At key stages in the Brexit process, such as the Article 50 notification through to this Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration, the Scottish Government has seen key texts through the media. This makes a mockery of the Prime Minister’s claims that the devolved administrations will be ‘fully involved’.[4] The actions of the UK Government have consistently undermined the terms of reference of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations, the body the UK Government offered us as the mechanism to “seek to agree a UK approach to, and objectives for, Article 50 negotiations.”[5]

5. It is far from certain that this deal will survive scrutiny either in the UK Cabinet or in the House of Commons. The House of Commons has an opportunity to reject the deal and put in place a better outcome when the Prime Minister puts it before them. The Scottish Government believes that there are two ways forward. Firstly, the House of Commons must coalesce around a clear direction of travel that would keep the UK within the European single market and the customs union, and secondly the option of another public vote should be supported.


Email: Ellen Leaver

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