Brexit: Scots exports to UK massively greater than EU trade

The value of being part of the UK single market is four times as lucrative to Scotland as being in the EU, official figures today show.

Keith Brown says Scotland should not have to choose between the UK and EU
Keith Brown says Scotland should not have to choose between the UK and EU

And the increase in the exports to the rest of the UK has also been significantly higher in the past year.

Scotland’s international exports rose from £27.7 billion in 2014 to £28.7 billion in 2015.

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Nicola Sturgeon is poised to call a referendum on Scottish independence in order to remain part of the EU single market. But it has prompted fears this could jeopardise the country's place in the UK single market, although the SNP insists Scotland would remain part of this after a Yes vote.

Today's figures show that, in 2015, Scotland's trade with England, Wales and Northern Ireland amounted to £49.8 billion. This compared to £12.3 billion for the EU internal market.

Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "Once again, the facts are making it clear that our own Union of nations is Scotland's essential union on which our prosperity depends.

"Europe is a vital market place for us too - which is why we want to see a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU following Brexit. But these figures show that to prioritise the EU market before our own Union - as the SNP wants - is absurd.

"Quite simply, thousands of jobs depend on our ability to trade within the UK without any barriers in our way."

The figures show that the USA is Scotland's top international trading partner, with £4.6 billion exports.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “It is hugely encouraging to see that Scotland’s total international exports, excluding oil and gas, increased by £1 billion in a year.

“It is clear that since the vote to leave the European Union, we must continue to be seen to be a country that is outward facing and open for business. The EU market is 8 times the size of UK market, which highlights the importance of remaining in the Single Market.

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“I want to be clear that Scotland should not face a choice between exporting to the EU or UK. We can do both.

“We are working on an ambitious programme of internationalisation, including measures to broaden Scotland’s export base and to grow exports beyond our traditional markets, which is why I am pleased to confirm membership of our new Trade Board, who will take forward this important work alongside our new hubs in Dublin, Brussels, London and Berlin and our planned network of trade envoys.”

But Labour leader Kezia Dugdale called on Ms Sturgeon to ditch plans for a second independence vote over Brexit.

“Tory plans for a hard Brexit risk damaging Scotland’s economy – but the SNP government’s own figures show that independence would be considerably worse,” Ms Dugdale said.

“It is simply a reckless nationalist gamble to put access to the UK single market, and all the jobs that depend on it, at risk. That’s why the SNP must drop plans for a second independence referendum.

“Scottish Labour will not support any SNP plans for another referendum and if Nicola Sturgeon wants to stand up for Scotland’s economy she will take that threat off the table.”