Lord Kerr: Time to "press May on insecurity" of her hard Brexit plan

Author of Article 50 predicts a “decade of delay” for Scotland in the midst of Brexit in annual Glasgow lecture

LORD KERR, the diplomat and the author of the Article 50 mechanism for exiting the EU, has told Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that it is vital that she puts public pressure on the UK Government’s uncertain plans to achieve an “easy” WTO trade arrangement.

In a lecture yesterday (18 January) he also stated that a “decade of delay” with an inevitable loss of jobs and growth awaits Scotland if special deals are not done to ensure its access to the single market.

He made his comments two days after the UK Prime Minister confirmed Brexit would mean leaving the single market and before she makes a speech to businesses in Switzerland today (19 January).

“I would suggest she emphasises the utter discord and uncertainty of the UK Government plan for trade.” Lord Kerr

Kerr, who was an ambassador and UK permanent representative to the EU from 1990 until 1995, and ambassador to the US from 1995 to 1997, told CommonSpace: “As for which way I lean on the constitutional question I don't think that’s of much use as I can't vote in a prospective referendum, as I couldn't in the last.

“I won't presume to dictate to Nicola Sturgeon every inner facet of her political strategy. Her government has produced a rather impressive document and the only serious proposals to try and address the situation- the bizarre one we find ourselves in.

“However, I would suggest she emphasises the utter discord and uncertainty of the UK Government plan for trade. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) arrangements look like a difficult business and more complex than many in Whitehall are alluding to. Time to press May on the insecurity of her trade plan.”

“Her government has produced a rather impressive document and the only serious proposals to try and address the situation.” Lord Kerr

The WTO sets the rules for global trade. It’s free trade arrangement are the stated “fall back” position of the UK Government, according to Brexit minister David Davis, if the UK does not reach a trade deal with the EU or join secondary options in the form of EEA or EFTA European trade agreements.

The WTO’s 164 members are responsible for 95 per cent of all world trade and would all need to reach a consensus on the UK’s trade deal within the rules of the organisation. Kerr said it is not inconceivable that many nations wouldn’t want to trade with the UK on its current WTO status, but negotiate a new one to its disadvantage.The experienced diplomat who negotiated relationships between the UK, EU and US also made the case for a special arrangement for Scotland post-Brexit in the annual Glasgow lecture. He said it was “totally conceivable” that Scotland could have, in a worst case scenario, Scotland only work visas.

He said that UK Prime Minister Theresa May had “disregarded the core principles of the Scottish Government’s Scotland in Europe paper.”“She could have been a bit more tactful”, he added.

May has now outlined her twelve point plan for ‘hard Brexit’, that will see the UK leave the all the major institutional arrangements of the EU, including free movement and the single market. The UK Government say this will represent are “fairer” dispensation for the UK and will restor soverignty.

However UK opposition parties and some EU leaders have said the proposed settlement, which is highly favourable to the UK, cannot be achieved.

May vs Reality: The truth behind Theresa May’s 12 point plan for Brexit

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