Scant progress at second devolved nations-Westminster Brexit meeting
SCOTLAND’S MINISTER for Brexit talks with the UK Government has raised concerns of a lack of transparency after the second Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) meeting on EU negotiation positions.
Mike Russell met with devolved counterparts and the Tory Government in London in an attempt to construct an agreed negotiating position ahead of the triggering of Article 50.
However, the slow-moving process - almost five months since the referendum vote - led to no concrete progress towards further details on a full agreement. The Scottish Government’s priority has been to avoid a ‘Hard Brexit’ for the UK - cutting off trading links in favour of harsher migration controls, which has so far been ignored.
“There was a discussion over EU market access but we do not know whether UK ministers want to remain inside the single market or the customs union. This will remain a considerable problem as we continue to promote the interests of Scotland.” Mike Russell MSP
Russell, following the meeting, stated: “I made it absolutely clear that membership of the single market and the benefits that flow from it, including free movement of labour, is essential for the economic prosperity of Scotland.
“Although it is good that the process of involving the Scottish Government and the other devolved administrations is underway, more than four months after the referendum the UK Government has still not made its strategic intentions clear.
“There was a discussion over EU market access but we do not know whether UK ministers want to remain inside the single market or the customs union. This will remain a considerable problem as we continue to promote the interests of Scotland.”
Theresa May’s first trip as prime minister was to meet with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh regarding the Brexit referendum, where she promised close collaboration with the Scottish Government.
However, that promise has not led to any tangible progress or agreements on key Brexit negotiating issues like trade, migration, and institutional collaboration.
The Scottish Government has since began preparing its own independent negotiating position - based on the hope that Scotland could maintain its own relationship with the EU or the European Free Trade Association, even if rUK does not.
A consultation on a fresh independence referendum has also been launched.
Picture courtesy of Giampaolo Squarcina
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