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.

5. Conclusion: coalescing around a better alternative

48. What is now evident is that under the deal negotiated by the UK Government we would be taken out of the European Union, the most successful and developed international partnership in the world on the vaguest set of aspirations. With all the key decisions to be taken on a future partnership yet to be negotiated a lengthy period of uncertainty is set to continue. When combined with the restrictions that the European Union will inevitably have to place on a non-member – or a ‘third country’ – this will undoubtedly leave this country less well-off economically, socially, democratically and reputationally.

49. It is simply not true for the UK Government to present this deal as the only choice for the country. The Prime Minister’s repeated claim that the only alternative is ‘no deal’ is disingenuous, presenting anyone who opposes her with a wholly false choice. We believe that something better is possible, something that secures a better outcome for Scotland and the UK as a whole.

50. Our assessment on some of the key issues as above, demonstrates the negative impact of the Prime Minister’s deal on this country, both now and for future generations. It is our responsibility as a Government to be clear that this is not good enough for Scotland. It clearly and unequivocally fails to satisfy the five interests set out by the First Minister in July 2016 shortly after the EU referendum.

51. A free trade agreement where Scotland’s key sectors are ignored will do untold damage to our Economic interests; a meagre commitment by the UK Government to non-regression in the field of social and employment rights will leave our interests in Social Protection fundamentally undermined; our desire to act in Solidarity with our neighbours in relation to security and justice, climate change, and other global challenges will be lessened; as a smaller player we will lose out on Influence in the world. Furthermore the UK Government’s approach to these negotiations and engagement with the devolved administrations demonstrates a re-centralisation of power putting our influence over existing areas of devolved competence at risk. Above all, both the process of these negotiations and the outcome which has been delivered, demonstrate a disregard for the Democratic interests of Scotland, and the 62% of people in Scotland who voted to remain in the European Union.

52. There is presently real doubt over whether there is a parliamentary majority for the Prime Minister’s deal when it comes to the House of Commons for the so called meaningful vote. That vote is being falsely described by the UK Government as a choice between the deal which they have agreed with the EU or a no-deal. The impact of no deal, both short- and long-term, would be so critical and damaging that a responsible government should rule it out, rather than present it as the only alternative.

53. It is necessary, however, that while we call on the UK Government to rule out a no deal outcome, unless and until that happens, we will continue to prepare for it to the best of our ability given the situation we have been placed in, responsibly protecting Scotland’s interests whatever the outcome.

54. The House of Commons still has an opportunity to reject the UK Government’s proposed deal and seek a better alternative. The Scottish Government is clear that that must be a commitment to retaining permanent membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union (a well understood, existing construct) and that we would support a second vote on EU membership which includes the option to remain.

55. Neither a bad deal nor no deal are acceptable. That is why the Scottish Government, recognising that what is on the table bears no resemblance to what was sold to voters in 2016, supports a second referendum, acknowledging this would almost certainly require the UK Government to request an extension of the Article 50 withdrawal procedure as provided for in the EU Treaties. That would present an opportunity – although not a guarantee as the result in the rest of the UK may not change - for the people of Scotland to have their views respected in the way that they were not in the first referendum on 2016. The Scottish Government believes that the only way to guarantee that the wishes of the people of Scotland are respected is to become an independent country and that the treatment of Scotland throughout the Brexit process has demonstrated the costs to the Scottish economy and society from not enjoying that independent status.

56. The Scottish Government is calling on all those who, like us, cannot accept what is currently on the table to come together, coalescing around the pressing need for a change of approach. We will work with anyone of good will on such an endeavour.


Email: Ellen Leaver

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