Nicola Sturgeon: Brexit deal could cost Scots £1,600 per year

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The Brexit deal Theresa May is seeking to “impose” on Scotland could end up costing the equivalent of £1,600 a year, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

The First Minister branded the draft deal drawn up by the UK Government as “unacceptable” and insisted: “In short it will make us poorer.”

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes part in a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh today:ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes part in a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh today:ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

She spoke out as a new paper from the Scottish Government on its impact said it could result in “loss equivalent to £1,610 per person in Scotland compared to EU membership by 2030”.

Investment in Scotland could be 7.7% lower by this date compared to if the UK had stayed in the European Union, the report added.

It warned the “special deal” being put in place to prevent the return to a hard border in Ireland would leave Scotland at a “serious competitive disadvantage” to Northern Ireland.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The analysis shows why the deal agreed by the Prime Minister is unacceptable to the Scottish Government and damaging to the people of Scotland.

“No government of Scotland with the interests of this and future generations at heart could possibly accept it.”

As well as removing Scotland from the European Single Market and Customs Union, Ms Sturgeon said it would “damage our NHS and make it harder to attract and retain the social care and health service staff we need”.

The First Minister insisted: “Quite simply this is a bad deal, which the UK Government is seeking to impose on the people of Scotland regardless of the damage it will cause.

“It will not end uncertainty. It will extend it. We are being asked to accept a blindfold Brexit with all the difficult decisions kicked down the road.

“Notwithstanding the overwhelming vote in Scotland to remain, we have, for two years now, put forward plans to keep the UK as a whole in the Single Market and Customs Union.

“That is a common-sense compromise that would limit the damage of Brexit and recognise that two of the four UK nations voted to remain.”

She said the Scottish Government would continue to pursue this option in talks and would also support a second Brexit referendum with the option of remaining in the EU on the ballot paper.

While the number of people of working age in Scotland is currently forecast to grow by 1.1%, the report warned a 50% fall in migrants coming from Europe could instead lead to a 1% decline.

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It also claimed a “gap will likely emerge” between the UK and Europe on security issues “putting at risk Scotland’s direct links to EU partners in Europol and Eurojust as well as access to tools such as the European Arrest Warrant”.

The report stated: “There is a sense in some quarters that the deal represents a major breakthrough and gives clarity for the future. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“The agreement may have taken over two years of intense negotiation but it nevertheless only covers the UK’s divorce from the EU.

“The political declaration which accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement provides no certainty on the future relationship as so much within the text is conditional upon the obligations the UK Government will accept.

“Nearly all the difficult decisions which need to be taken about the future of our businesses and society have simply been postponed for another day, to be negotiated by the UK once we have become a third country.

“We therefore face what is effectively a blindfold Brexit, with several more years of damaging uncertainty for businesses and of UK Government still consumed by these negotiations and their own internal divisions.”

It added: “Such uncertainty is likely to lead to businesses postponing or cancelling investment and recruitment plans until the UK’s future economic relationship with the EU becomes clearer.

“This will depress economic activity and put jobs at risk.”

READ MORE - 70% if Scots would back remain in a ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said: “Theresa May’s deal is backed by businesses in Scotland, it delivers an orderly departure from the EU and it provides many of things the SNP demanded - like rights for EU citizens living here and a lengthy transition period.

“Today, Nicola Sturgeon has once again repeated her opposition to that deal.

“We all know why - she’s not interested in a deal, she wants Britain to crash out with no deal because she thinks that will help her obsession with a second referendum on independence.

“Tomorrow, Theresa May will be in Scotland to talk about how her plan can help the country come together and move on to a brighter future.

“The contrast between the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon is stark.

“Nicola Sturgeon is playing politics with Brexit, Theresa May is getting on with Brexit.

“The Scottish Conservatives, and more and more Scots, back Theresa May - not Nicola Sturgeon and her political games.”