The SNP could damage the Brexit deal Theresa May’s deputy has warned by demanding powers currently held in Brussels.
David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, warned that the SNP risks “splitting” the UK’s economy and causing serious damage to the country’s ability to strike trade deals.
He said that the UK’s economy could struggle outside of the EU if Nicola Sturgeon’s government continued to push for a disjointed economy.
Writing in The Telegraph, he issued a stark warning to both the Scottish and Welsh governments, stating that both risked damaging the “ability to act in the national interest” and forge new trade agreements, by opening the door to “different sets of rules”.
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He warned that discrepancies between the UK and the devolved governments would lead to “unnecessary disruption” for domestic trade.
Mr Lidington made the comments after the SNP stated that the UK Government’s Brexit talks were part of a “power grab” over areas such as food standards and regulation of chemicals.
Under current drafts, the powers would be returned to Westminster to ensure “continuity” post-Brexit.
In his letter Mr Lidington writes: “Westminster would only be involved where, to protect the UK internal market or to meet our international obligations we need a pause to give the governments time to design and put in place a UK-wide framework”.
He adds: “We could choose to leave as a country split and an economy disjointed, struggling to make our way in a new world outside the EU. Or we can come together as one United Kingdom, confidently seizing new global opportunities as we build a prosperous, secure nation fit for the future challenges we will face.
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“By maintaining legal UK frameworks where strictly necessary, we retain our ability to act in the national interest when we need to – protecting our nation’s security or signing trade deals with the growth markets of tomorrow, using the leverage and the diplomatic network of the UK to sell Islay whisky, Caerphilly cheese and buses from Ballymena throughout the world.”
Despite claims that a ‘considerable offer’ to pass powers from the EU to the Scottish Government, John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, this week said Holyrood needed the power to “act differently in Scotland when that is the right thing to do”.
Under the current draft 111 powers would be handed from Brussels to Whitehall on policy areas that have been devolved to Holyrood. The Welsh government has identified 64 devolved powers.
Mr Lidington’s offer is understood to have pleased Scottish Conservatives, who had publicly complained about Clause 11 of the Withdrawal Bill, which currently allows ministers to transfer all powers to Westminster, however, sources indicate that the SNP are set to try and bargain for more.