Senior MSP Joan McAlpine has been scorned by her political opponents after claiming that there was no such thing as the UK single market.
The convener of Holyrood’s European Committee made the claim about the border-free movement of goods, capital, people and services inside the UK during a discussion on Brexit.
McAlpine stated that devolution meant the UK had already lost its frictionless economy, however, the comment was soon jumped on by political opponents, who were quick to point out that Scottish independence could be more likely to end the single market during the Brexit discussion.
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Two of the panellists on the committee were quick to correct the MSP.
Ms McAlpine said: “This talk of the UK single market, it’s a bit of a nonsense when you think that under the devolved settlement we already have different approaches to things.
“Health, for example, and lots of other areas as well where we take a different approach.
“So we don’t really have a UK single market.”
Professor Nicola McEwen, Associate Director of the Centre for Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University, promptly told her: “Yes, we do.”
Alan Page, Professor of Public Law at the University of Dundee, then explained: “Buying and selling goods, moving job, capital - all of these things move freely within the United Kingdom to the extent that we don’t even think about it.
“We live in an economic and monetary union. We do have, no question, a single market in which goods, people, capital move freely within the UK.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said: “It appears Joan McAlpine has decided to temporarily leave the reality-based community. Of course, we have a UK market - just ask anyone who has popped across the border from Carlisle to Gretna to do some shopping.
“Given Ms McAlpine is a South of Scotland MSP, you’d think she’d be the first to understand this. It’s therefore extremely odd she doesn’t.”
The SNP has claimed that the UK single market is a chance for a Westminster ‘power grab’ during Brexit discussions.
The UK single market is key to the main Brexit legislation and the SNP’s claim that it is a Westminster “power grab” as the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, would currently see all powers, even those that are currently devolved, repatriated from the EU at Brexit go to Westminster.
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According to the Herald, the SNP stated that the ‘power grab’ breaches the fundamental principle of the devolution settlement, despite claims from the UK government that some powers will be forwarded.
During the event, a number of aspects of Brexit were discussed, with the SNP stating that many voters in Scotland had been overruled and that Brexit had left a black hole in Scottish politics.
Dr Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said there was a “democratic gap” and ruled out the possibility of a soft Brexit.
She said: “The complete political and economic crisis we would get as we plunge convincingly towards no deal is probably our best chance of actually forcing Labour to shift, forcing the SNP to speak out and turning this around.”