The Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) provides a valuable forum for the UK Government and devolved Administrations to discuss EU exit. We took an important step forward at the last meeting in October by agreeing a set of principles to govern the consideration of frameworks. Another meeting will be held next Tuesday, and I hope to see significant progress then.
I welcome the constructive approach that is being taken to the Joint Ministerial Committee. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital that both sides keep this up and make real progress on the substance, so that as we leave the EU we have a stronger Scottish Parliament as part of a stronger United Kingdom?
I agree with my hon. Friend. I look forward to the opportunity to continue the good progress that we are making in our framework discussions, which will lead to significantly more powers for Holyrood while maintaining the integrity of the UK’s internal market.
As my right hon. Friend will know, fishing is a totemic industry in my constituency of Banff and Buchan, where there is real concern that the Scottish Government want to take Scotland back into the common fisheries policy. Can he reassure me that in all conversations and negotiations in the JMC (EN), he stands firm on taking Scotland’s fisherman out of the CFP, and keeping them out?
In his short time in this Parliament, my hon. Friend has already come to be seen as a champion for the fishing industry. I can give him an absolute guarantee: unlike the Scottish National party, which would take us straight back into the common fisheries policy, this Government will take Scotland and the rest of the UK out of that discredited policy.
The Secretary of State rightly argued in September 2014 that if Scotland left the United Kingdom, there would be a barrier at Berwick because of Scotland leaving the UK single market. Can he tell the House why it is any different for the island of Ireland? Is not his Brexit shambles a threat to the United Kingdom?
I have been, and remain, absolutely clear that nothing will be done in any Brexit deal that will threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom, and particularly Scotland’s part in it.
Given the miasma of despair that hangs over this dying Government, Scotland needs a competent and cogent voice at the Cabinet table. To prove that that voice is his, will the Secretary of State tell us his red lines, in Scotland’s interests, that he has laid out to the Prime Minister?
I am quite clear that my red line is the integrity of the United Kingdom, and keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom, which people in Scotland voted for in 2014. We are leaving the EU as a United Kingdom, and nothing that the SNP does will stop that.