Brexit: No-deal with the EU 'disastrous for Scotland' claims Mike Russell

The Scottish Government's Brexit minister has rejected the Prime Minister's assertion that leaving the EU will be good for Scotland, and that if no deal is struck by the end of the transition period, the UK economy can “live with it”.

Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Relations Mike Russell has rejected the Prime Minister's assertion that Brexit will be good for Scotland.

Mike Russell, said it was "beyond belief” that with trade talks continuing this week, that Scottish firms had been left with "no idea what their trading arrangements will be with the EU in less than three months’ time.”

He added: “A ‘no-deal’ would be disastrous for Scotland. But because of the limited ambitions of the UK Government, any agreement that is struck puts Scotland, its people and its economy, in a substantially worse position than where we are now.”

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Mr Russell said that a failure to strike a trade deal with the EU could see "crippling” tariffs placed on goods.

"Beef and lamb exports to the EU, worth £76 million in 2018/2019, would be rendered almost unviable with much of exports set to face tariffs in the region of 50% to 70%,” he said.

“Other sectors such as refined petroleum, leather goods and textiles would face tariffs ranging from around 5% to 12%.

“Even if the UK secures the kind of limited deal it is seeking, Scottish GDP will be 6.1% lower, that is around £9 billion, by 2030, compared to a Scotland that enjoys continued EU membership.”

The Prime Minister today said he believed the terms being offered to the EU by the UK government were a “good deal”, but that if there was no agreement, and trade revered to World Trade Organisation terms, the UK economy “could live with it”.

“I hope that they'll agree to the deal that we've set out because it's a very good deal for the EU. All we're asking our friends and partners to offer is terms that they've already offered to Canada which is you know a long way away from here,” he said. “I don't want the Australian-WTO type outcome, particularly, but we can more than live with it.”

He also said he believed Brexit would be good for Scotland, in particular its fishing industry.

However Mr Russell said: “If this limited deal is struck, our exporters will face significant new barriers. Products will have to be checked as they enter the EU, jeopardising just-in-time supply chains for exports such as seafood, worth £780 million in 2019.

“There will be extra paperwork - it has been estimated by the seafood industry that just the export health certificates for seafood alone will cost between £7 million and £15 million a year.

“Both a no deal or a ‘low deal’ outcome will force the people of Scotland into a position for which they did not vote: out of the Single Market, out of the Customs Union and with the end of freedom of movement – hitting jobs, lives and living standards hard.”

He said the Scottish Government would attempt to “mitigate against the consequences” but that it “cannot avert every negative outcome”, and reiterated his belief the best outcome for Scotland was to be an “independent country.”

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