The report from the Lords EU committee is a timely reminder to Theresa May’s Government that it must respect devolution, writes Lord Jay of Ewelme
Scotland, along with Northern Ireland, voted by a significant majority to stay in the EU, with 62 per cent of votes cast in Scotland being for remain. Scotland also has a particular dependence on EU workers to meet it economic and demographic needs across a whole range of sectors.
Today’s report from the Lords EU committee urges the UK government to respect the particular circumstances in Scotland in negotiating the terms of Brexit.
Of course, the whole UK voted to leave the EU, but that does not mean that a ‘one size fits all’ Brexit can be imposed on a diverse and politically divided family of nations.
We urge the UK government to do more to engage the devolved administrations, so that they can help shape the UK’s negotiating position.
This will require all the governments of the UK to set aside their differences and work constructively together, in good faith, to achieve an outcome that protects the interests of all parts of the UK.
We already have a mechanism to facilitate this in the Joint Ministerial Committee (European Negotiations), but it’s not working as it should, and the assessment from Wales and Scotland was scathing.
Now is the time for the UK government to raise its game, to ensure the JMC (EN) is more than just a talking shop.
But the Scottish Government must be realistic too. This is not the time for constitutional reform. Nor will Scotland in practice be able to stay in the EU single market if the rest of the UK leaves.
In time, Brexit may lead to a more fundamental review of the principles underpinning the UK’s constitutional settlement.
But in the short term, it is incumbent on all the governments of the UK to work constructively together to get the best possible deal for everyone.
Lord Jay is a member of the House of Lords European Union Committee. He served as British Ambassador to France for five years before being appointed to lead the UK diplomatic service