Holyrood Committee Warns Of Brexit Consequences

5 March 2017, 06:54

Holyrood

Brexit will have profound consequences for Scotland's economy and future prosperity, a Holyrood committee has said.

A report from the Scottish Parliament's European Committee calls for a ''bespoke solution'' for Scotland to be included in the UK's Article 50 settlement.

With membership of the EU Single Market and European Economic Area (EEA) ruled out, the committee said the UK Government has ''lost the only opportunity for an easier Brexit''.

The report, titled Determining Scotland's Future Relationship With The European Union, said: ''The UK Government's decision to leave not only the EU but also the EEA, thereby relinquishing membership of the single market, will have profound consequences for Scotland's economy and future prosperity.

''The single market is the most successful example of a multilateral free trade area in the world.

''The UK has decided to abandon the advantages it currently enjoys as a member of the EU and EEA, not only through the single market but also through the trade agreements that the EU has with 55 countries.

''Instead it has decided to start from scratch in establishing free trade agreements with the EU and with other countries.

''The UK has decided to do this in a period when there are signs of the world becoming more ''mercantilist and protectionist.``

The committee wants the UK Government to respond to the Scottish Government's Scotland's Place In Europe paper before Article 50 is triggered.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine said: ''We are calling for a bespoke solution that reflects Scotland's majority vote to remain in the single market.

''We've found there to be understanding within the EU of Scotland's position on Brexit and we believe a bespoke solution can be included in the UK's Article 50 settlement.

''Our committee has always argued that retaining access to the single market would be the best outcome for Scotland.

''However, with the UK Government having ruled membership of the single market out for the UK, we have had no choice but to look at other options.

''Our evidence suggests that membership of the EEA, for example, would be one route that could provide an easier transition out of the single market than a 'hard Brexit', which would have significant consequences for the Scottish economy.''

Conservative MSPs and committee members Jackson Carlaw and Rachel Hamilton dissented from a number of points in the report's conclusions.

The report also calls for clarity on the potential impact on devolution of the repatriation of powers from the EU.

Deputy convener Lewis Macdonald said: ''It's vital that we get clarity on EU powers that are to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

''We are clear in our report that any EU powers in devolved areas such as agriculture, fisheries, the environment and justice and home affairs must be repatriated to the Scottish Parliament.

''There also needs to be an appropriate funding mechanism for these powers to ensure that the Scottish budget and Scottish interests do not lose out.''

Green MSP and committee member Ross Greer described the report as ''damning of the reckless approach to the Brexit process''.

''These few weeks before Article 50 is activated are the UK Government's last chance to show that they value Scotland at all,'' Mr Greer said.

''If they are not willing to compromise and limit the damage to our economy - predicted to include 80,000 lost jobs and a £2,000 drop in average incomes - it's hard to see how they could deny us the chance to choose our own future.

''The only options seem to be the Tories' Hard Brexit or putting our future in our own hands with independence.''

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