Tory advisory group hits out at separate Scottish EU deal

Ruth Davidson commissioned advisory group on EU. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Ruth Davidson commissioned advisory group on EU. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Ruth Davidson’s advisory group on Europe has said a separate Scottish deal on European Union or European Economic Area membership would result in the “fracturing” of the UK domestic market.

A paper by a panel of experts concludes that concludes that a “differentiated deal” as proposed by Nicola Sturgeon is neither ”deliverable” nor in Scotland’s “self-interest”.

Their findings will be considered by the UK Government and inform Theresa May, who is faced with Scottish Government demands for Scotland to remain in the single market.

The report, titled Scotland’s Trading Future, says that apart from the legal, political and technical obstacles to such a plan, a Scottish deal would “break our integrated domestic UK market, whose economic importance to Scotland is paramount”.

It says that unless the Scottish Government agreed to adopt the same immigration policy as the rest of the UK, it is “inevitable” that internal UK border controls would be introduced under their plan.

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Even in the absence of tariffs between Scotland and the rest of the UK, the flow of goods and services across the border which are four times more important to Scotland than EU exports would “inevitably be affected” by more restrictive controls.

There would be a gradual “divergence” between Scotland and the rest of the UK as Scotland through EU or EEA membership was forced to adopt more EU regulations and laws, while the rest of the UK did not.

It also argues that if Scotland capitalised on the opportunities of Brexit – while maintaining EU growth – exports to the rest of the world could be double that of those to the EU.

Under that scenario, rest of the world exports would be worth £10 billion more than if there was no change.

Ms Davidson said: “I would like to place on record my thanks to this group for the important work they have done. The report makes it very clear: none of the challenges posed by Brexit are answered by weakening or breaking up our own Union of nations.”

She added: “This report makes a compelling argument that, as we embark on our departure from the EU, the protection of our own Union is vital to Scotland’s self-interest.”

The group was chaired by Conservative MEP Ian Duncan and comprised of: Allan Hogarth of AH Strategies; Rhona Irving, a retired PwC partner; Sir Iain McMillan, former director of CBI Scotland; and the Conservative MSPs Alexander Stewart and Professor Adam Tomkins.