Scotland's place in Europe: our way forward

This paper sets out our position following the result of the EU Referendum.


84. As has been clearly demonstrated, while the UK Government may succeed in gaining agreement to withdrawal from the EU, the future relationship remains very unclear and the current UK Government negotiating position is based on the core elements of a fundamentally flawed proposal. The Scottish Government has set out a credible and evidence-backed plan that would immediately address this situation by keeping the UK within the European Single Market and the Customs Union, thereby protecting jobs, economic growth and prosperity and safeguarding vital social and environmental benefits as well as removing any further uncertainty.

85. The significant challenges and clear limitations of the Chequers proposal, that the UK Government continues to place at the centre of its strategy for the future relationship between the UK and EU, have also been clearly set out. It has been shown that the choice between two scenarios - Chequers proposal or no-deal - claimed by the UK Government is a false choice. In reality, the outcome seems more likely to be a blindfold Brexit that is not acceptable.

86. We have also made clear the impact that Brexit is having on the internal operations of the UK, and the wider constitutional challenges that an exit from the EU represents. These issues further heighten the uncertainty and potential impact of Brexit across the UK, and need to be urgently addressed.

87. The Scottish Government set out clear proposals in 2016 that would best protect Scotland's interests. This was for the UK as a whole to remain within the European Single Market and Customs Union. This was supported by clear evidence that has since been further supported by a range of additional independent evidence, including an evidence-backed plan for the UK to remain in the European Single Market and Customs Union. This would provide certainty and a clear way forward that would have every chance of being successfully negotiated with the EU and other EEA partners.

88. As matters stand, and against the wishes of a clear majority of the people of Scotland, the UK is set to leave the EU at a time of great uncertainty and significant challenges in world affairs. The vagaries of globalisation, the rise of populism, the breakdown in international trade diplomacy, the challenge of climate change, and the significant increase in the movement of stateless persons are matters that concern us all.

89. Presently the UK is a member of a family of nation states that has the capacity, when acting together, to address these issues. Outside the EU the UK will be a smaller player globally and therefore more vulnerable to a landscape shaped by others. This has the potential to impact our economic prosperity and our way of life. The Scottish Government believes this is neither necessary
nor desirable.

90. The Scottish Government also remains fully committed to securing a positive and mutually beneficial future relationship with European partners, rejecting the increasingly negative rhetoric characterising the negotiations, that will not serve the UK well in sustaining existing partnerships and developing new ones. Whatever happens on Brexit, we will remain an outward-facing and international nation.

91. Time is running short and the stakes could not be higher for decisions that will have a fundamental effect on Scotland, and the UK, for many generations to come. The proposals we have put forward have the interests of the people of Scotland at their heart. We firmly believe that - short of continued EU membership - continued membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union is the only way to protect our future economic and social prosperity. At this time of uncertainty we believe our proposals respect the outcome of the UK referendum while offering the most credible solution to the current impasse. This will provide Scotland and the UK with a solid basis for a future positive relationship with the EU and allow us to protect the future prosperity of Scotland and the UK.


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