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UK Single Market

Volume 624: debated on Wednesday 19 April 2017

Sales from Scotland to the rest of the UK are now worth nearly £50 billion, an increase of over 70% since 2002 and four times the value of exports from Scotland to the EU. There is no doubt that the United Kingdom is the vital Union for Scotland.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best deal for Scotland is to stay part of the United Kingdom and to work with the UK Government to do all it can to support a new free trade agreement with the EU?

The International Monetary Fund predicted dire consequences for the UK economy if we voted Brexit, yet it upgraded our growth yesterday, for the second time in three months, to 2%. Much of the confidence about the growth in the UK economy is deserved under the leadership of our Prime Minister. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when people look to buy British, as a quality marque “made in Scotland” is very important?

My constituency has a long and proud tradition of textile companies, many of which trade with all parts of the United Kingdom. How will those companies be helped by Scotland leaving the hugely successful UK single market?

Obviously, they will not, because, as my hon. Friend will know, in 2015 Scotland exported £49.8 billion to the rest of the UK, four times more than exports to the EU and three times greater than sales to the rest of the world.

The benefits to Scotland of full access to the UK market are clear. Does my right hon. Friend agree that Scottish representation in this Parliament must focus on what benefits the whole of the UK single market?

Absolutely. That is why I can confirm to my hon. Friend that when Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives go into the general election, it will be on the basis of keeping Scotland at the heart of our United Kingdom.

12. Seventy-five per cent. of Canada’s exports go to the US, whereas only 63% of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK. Canada is a successful, independent country. Does the Secretary of State agree that neighbouring countries can have close trading relations while still maintaining their sovereignty? (909652)

Of course countries can have close trading relationships, but Scotland benefits from being part of the United Kingdom because there are no barriers to trade, and there is freedom of movement between Scotland and the rest of the UK. That is good for Scottish business and the hon. Lady should support it.

15. The value of Scottish exports of food and drink has doubled in the past 10 years, to £5.5 billion in 2016. This week, the chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers, said that he was afraid that the consequences of leaving the European Union without a trade deal would result in tariffs. Can the Secretary of State guarantee that the Scottish food and drink sector will not have to deal with such a situation? (909655)

From my discussions with the Scottish food and drink industry, I understand that its greatest concern is that the Scottish National party would seek to drag Scotland out of the United Kingdom.

Does the Secretary of State stand by his comments last year, when he said:

“My role is to ensure Scotland gets the best possible deal and that deal involves clearly being part of the single market”?

Will he be honest with his constituents in a few weeks’ time? Will they be voting for an MP who supports being in the single market, or for one who wants to go along with a damaging hard Brexit, whatever the cost to families and businesses in his constituency?

When I contest my constituency in the next general election, I look forward to knowing exactly what the SNP position is on the EU. Is it for taking Scotland back into the EU, or is it not? I hope we will find out in the next six weeks.

The Tories’ strategy worked a treat against the Liberal Democrats in the south-west of England at the last election. Will the Secretary of State be urging his colleagues to export that strategy to Scotland in the coming election?

Ruth Davidson has already made it absolutely clear that her stance in the forthcoming general election will be to stand up for Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom and against a divisive second independence referendum.