Brexit White Paper plans ‘will harm Scotland’s economy’

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Plans for Britain’s future relations with the EU revealed in Prime Minister Theresa May’s White Paper will harm the economy, the Scottish Government has said.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the proposals in the document offer little reassurance for those worried about the impact of Brexit.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop. Picture: John Devlin

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop. Picture: John Devlin

She renewed calls for the UK Government to back continued membership of the European single market and customs union.

Mrs May’s framework envisages the UK and EU having a “common rulebook” for trade in goods and continued payments for participation in shared agencies and programmes.

It sets out plans for an end to free movement, with new rules allowing visa-free travel for tourism and temporary work.

The White Paper also envisages continued security co-operation, participation in Europol and a range of other EU agencies.

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Ms Hyslop said: “Quite simply, these plans fall short and will harm our economy.

“As with the Chequers agreement, there is some evidence that the UK Government now realises the damage of leaving the EU, as well as the benefits that being in the EU, the single market and custom union has brought to the whole of the UK. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go before those risks are mitigated.

“The Scottish Government has been consistently clear that the best way to protect Scotland’s interests and foster future growth - short of full EU membership which the people of Scotland voted for - is continued membership of the European single market and customs union.

“While the paper provides an indication that the UK wants to participate in pan-EU programmes in areas such as science and research, there continue to be too many unknowns on issues such as whether the UK’s proposals can deliver continued use of the European Arrest Warrant and what they mean for the future migration of people.”

Ms Hyslop said the proposals also fall short on employment rights and environmental protections.

“There is still an opportunity in these final few months of negotiations to encourage the UK to adopt the only sensible position of remaining within the single market and the custom union and to put a stop to some of the damage that Brexit will do,” she added.

“The Scottish Government will continue to make that case and to argue for much greater engagement with the UK Government to ensure Scotland’s interests are protected.”