Scotgov to use British-Irish Council to rally against Brexit confusion

As Brexit takes its toll on the UK economy, the nations of the British Isles head to Cardiff to debate EU future

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT will push for a united position in support of the single market among the nations attending the British-Irish Council (BIC) today [Friday 25 November].

The effort is part of an attempt to put pressure on the UK Government, which the Holyrood administration says has not shown sufficient commitment for single market membership in its preperations for leaving the European Union [EU].

The 28th BIC summit, held this year in Cardiff, will take place following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement, which confirmed that growth forecasts for the UK have been damaged by the shock vote for Brexit on 23 June.

“A hard Brexit outside the Single Market, is the biggest threat to the economic prosperity of Scotland and all the UK.” Fiona Hyslop

Secretary for external affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “A hard Brexit outside the Single Market, is the biggest threat to the economic prosperity of Scotland and all the UK.

“Despite repeated calls from the Scottish Government and other administrations who are understandably equally concerned, the UK Government is still failing to provide any transparency on their plans with only a few weeks of 2016 left.”

This week [Wednesday 24 November] the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasted slowed economic growth as a result of Brexit and a drastic dip in the value of the currency. UK growth was forecast down from 2.2 per cent to 1.4 per cent for 2017 with the UK Government set to borrow an extra £110bn to meet its spending plans, a shift in course which makes a mockery of six years of UK Government claims that austerity measures are absolutlely necessary to the long term health of the economy.

The PM of Malta Joseph Muscat also came out today stating that the members of the EU remaining are “not bluffing” on their desire to see a swift and complete Brexit process in which the EU is not disadvantaged. Such comments have increased fears that a hard Brexit could be more likely if the UK Government hardens its stance on hotspots such as freedom of movement. 

UK growth was forecast down from 2.2 per cent to 1.4 per cent for 2017

Hyslop added: “There is currently no confidence in the UK Government’s ability to fight for the benefits that the single market brings, including free movement of people, and all signs appear to be pointing to the fact they will choose to throw these away.

“We must not be forced into a race to the bottom in terms of standards and employment protection. That is why a key goal in these discussions at the British Irish Council will be to build support to push the UK Government for much-needed clarity and action.”

The Scottish Government Ministers attending the summit will be the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop, minister for UK negotiations on Scotland's place in Europe Michael Russell, and early years minister Mark McDonald .

Picture courtesy of Scottish Government

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