Hardliners ‘must be stopped from taking us out the single market’

Europe Minister Michael Russell with 
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Europe Minister Michael Russell with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
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THE Scottish Government will insist “loudly and clearly” that the UK must not be removed from the European single market by “hardline Brexiteers”.

Mike Russell, the recently appointed minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe, said being “dragged” out of the single market - which guarantees the free movement of goods and people - would have a damaging impact on both workers and the economy.

While the UK voted to leave the European Union, the Scottish Government has pledged to protect its relationships with the EU after nearly two-thirds of voters north of the border backed remain.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will speak out about the impact of the EU referendum for Scotland at Holyrood’s European Committee.

Meanwhile, Mr Russell will use a debate in the Scottish Parliament to insist it is “not good enough” that Prime Minister Theresa May has not made clear her government’s plans for Brexit.

The debate this afternoon is aimed at establishing Scotland’s key principals for involvement in the EU negotiations, with continued membership of the single market central to this.

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Mr Russell will tell MSPs that so far “the message from the United Kingdom Government has been both confused and damaging” and that at times “it seems as if a hard Brexit, with all the damage to jobs that would cause, is the desired destination”.

He will say: “We have no idea whether or not the UK wishes to remain within the single market, almost three months on from the referendum. That is not good enough.

“I am today inviting this parliament to add their voice to ours in holding the UK Government to the Prime Minister’s commitment and reiterating their support for our principled and values-driven approach to protecting Scotland’s interests, fundamental to which is to remain inside the single market.

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“For continued fairness and opportunity for Scotland’s workers as well as for long-term prosperity for Scotland as a whole, we must not be dragged by the hardline Brexiteers out of the single market.

“That is the case we must make loudly and clearly. In so doing we will find many others across these islands who believe the same and who can join us in the fight to preserve our future in Europe.”

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