After months of dithering, delaying and little more than scribbled notes in Downing Street we now know what Theresa May’s vision for a hard Brexit looks like. It is the clearest sign yet of just how far the Tories are willing to go to ignore the democratic will of the people of Scotland.
The Tories want to take Scotland out of the single market – a market eight times bigger than the UK’s alone – which will cost Scotland 80,000 jobs and cut wages by £2,000 a year, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.
And losing our place in the single market will not only affect Scotland’s jobs but future investment too.
For example, retaining membership of, and tariff-free access to, the single market is crucial to sustainability and growth in Scotland’s rural economy. Reverting to World Trade Organisation terms would open sections of our agricultural sector, such as cattle and sheep, up to significant risk. This is because we produce at prices above the world market price but are protected by the EU customs area.
The SNP raised the future of Scotland’s rural economy in the House of Commons yesterday as part of our Opposition Day Debate – not opposition for opposition’s sake, as the Prime Minister might say, but holding the UK Government to account on behalf of people living in Scotland.
The Prime Minister promised to share the UK Government’s Brexit proposals with Parliament so that MPs would have an opportunity to examine and debate them. But apparently we are to make do with reading about her 12-point plan in the national press. This is unacceptable. Theresa May must ensure MPs have sufficient time to properly scrutinise these proposals.
It is welcome that Parliament will have a vote on the final Brexit dea,l but the Prime Minister has failed to provide clarity on how the voices of the devolved administrations will be represented in that vote. To deny the elected representatives of the devolved nations a vote on the proposals, while giving one to the hundreds of unelected Lords and Ladies, highlights even further the democratic deficit Scotland faces at Westminster.
The Scottish government is the only government to the UK to publish a comprehensive plan to keep Scotland in the single market – even if the rest of the UK leaves.
While the Prime Minister said she is willing to cooperate with devolved administrations, if she is arbitrarily ruling out membership of the single market, she is ignoring a key Scottish government priority. Hardly the respect you might expect Scotland as an “equal partner” to receive.
Scotland did not vote for these proposals – the UK government is playing to the tune of the hard-right of the Tory party, and it is no surprise to see that yesterday’s speech has delighted those on the far-right.
If the Tories insist on imposing a hard Brexit and refuse to listen to Scotland’s clear wishes, then the people of Scotland have the right to consider what sort of future they want.
SNP MPs will ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard at Westminster and do everything in our power to ensure that Scotland is protected from the Tory hard Brexit.