Scotland will not be given a veto over post-Brexit trade deals between the UK and other countries, but will be “drawn in” to talks as much as possible, ministers have told MPs.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster, Trade Policy Minister George Hollingberry also said lowering standards for food imports to secure post-Brexit trade agreements would cause “untold damage”.
Mr Hollingberry said the UK Government would take devolved needs into account “at every stage and as deeply as is possible” while negotiating new trade deals around the world.
“We should be drawing them as closely in as is reasonable to the actual negotiations themselves such that we can have a full and frank exchange of views, so we know what the devolved administrations want,” he said.
But Mr Hollingberry added that a veto for the Scottish Government was “not on the table and will never be” because the UK single market had to be protected.
Questioned over fears of chlorine-treated chicken or hormone-injected beef being allowed into the UK after Brexit, Mr Hollingbery said: “We would be foolish, commercially, internationally to lower our standards. It would do us untold damage.”
SNP MP Pete Wishart, the committee chairman asked: “Would you be prepared even to go as far as to say that if a free trade arrangements was offered by the United States... that would be rejected in order to maintain the very high standards that we have around quality?”
The minister replied: “We will not be lowering our standards. My opinion is that commercially and internationally it would be a very, very ill-thought through thing to do.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell claimed many of the issues around standards were “entirely fanciful”, telling MPs: “I cannot see this parliament agreeing chlorine-washed chicken coming into Scotland or the United Kingdom.”