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Leaving the EU

Volume 637: debated on Wednesday 7 March 2018

5. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU. (904140)

10. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU. (904146)

13. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU. (904149)

As Members would expect, I have very regular discussions with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet regarding UK Government policy and how it affects Scotland. The UK Government are committed to securing a deal that works for all parts of the UK, including Scotland.

Has the Secretary of State just given up on getting the consent of the Scottish Parliament for any changes to its powers on the devolved settlement that this Tory Government plan to make, or is he so out of the loop that he no longer gets invited to Cabinet meetings and has quite simply become an irrelevance?

I do not know who briefs the hon. Lady, but the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations is meeting tomorrow. We are meeting with Mike Russell and Mark Drakeford, and we hope to take forward the solid progress that we have achieved over the course of these meetings.

One area where the Scottish and UK Governments appear to agree is that plans to take us out of the single market will be devastating for Scotland’s GDP, so can he tell us what plans he has to protect public services in Scotland from that?

The hon. Gentleman usually takes his brief with great seriousness, and therefore I am sure that he will have read the Prime Minister’s speech, if not watched it last week, which set out how the UK Government will approach the negotiations.

We have seen the Secretary of State go back on his words about the single market and have his authority undermined by not being invited to the PM’s Brexit meeting, and we are still waiting for his amendments to the withdrawal Bill. Given that the deadline is next Thursday, will this be just another catalogue of failures for the Secretary of State?

I would be very pleased if, after tomorrow’s meeting of the JMCEN, we are able to bring forward an agreed amendment that can be tabled in the House of Lords. That is certainly the aspiration of the UK Government.

Last week, the Prime Minister met me and colleagues from our fishing constituencies around the UK, including Scotland. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the meeting highlighted how this Government are serious about realising the opportunity presented by Brexit, and reminded us that only this Government will take us out of the common fisheries policy?

Absolutely. Since his election to this place last year, my hon. Friend has been a powerful advocate for the fishing industry and the expressed wish of the fishing industry to leave the common fisheries policy, and that is what this Government will deliver for the fishing industry in Scotland.

11. My right hon. Friend is no doubt aware of the enormous benefits that Brexit potentially provides for the Scottish economy, as part of one United Kingdom, but does he also agree with Corby Scots—Scots in my constituency—that the talk of an unwanted second independence referendum far outweighs any risk that Brexit might present? (904147)

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that talk of a second independence referendum is unwelcome and unnecessary. We have reached the point in the negotiations where we all need to come together and work with the Prime Minister to get the best possible deal for Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.

What progress is being made on ensuring that Scotland’s food producers will still have the protection that they need for important geographic brands such as Orkney beef or Shetland lamb after we have left the European Union?

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, despite scare stories to the contrary that have appeared in some parts of the media, there will be no change to the protection of those brands or an allowing in of false brands purporting to be them.

Non-UK nationals are essential to the agricultural industry in East Lothian. Can the Secretary of State guarantee that they will still have the same access after we leave the EU?

I very much welcomed the debate in this Parliament on that issue, led by my hon. Friend the Member for Angus (Kirstene Hair) who has been a strong advocate of the need for seasonal workers in Scotland, particularly in the soft fruit industry. The points raised in that debate and in the meetings of the Scottish Affairs Committee have all been recognised by the Government and will be looked at as we move forward.