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“Scotland’s Place in Europe”

Volume 635: debated on Thursday 1 February 2018

10. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the Scottish Government’s paper on “Scotland’s place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment”, published on 15 January 2018. (903674)

I have seen the report that the question refers to, and I know that the Secretary of State for Scotland discusses the Scottish Government’s priorities with them regularly at the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations). There is considerable common ground between us on what we want to get out of the process, such as making sure that Scottish universities and business have access to the best of European talent, but it is disappointing that the report does not take the threat of a second independence referendum off the table, as doing so would be in the interests of Scotland.

The Minister will be aware that the figures in “Scotland’s Place in Europe” very much mirror those that were leaked earlier this week. In Scotland, the difference is that the Scottish National party Government do proper analysis and publish it. The analysis says that there will be a hit to GDP of 8.5% and that £2,300 a year will be lost for each person in Scotland. How many jobs have to be lost or under threat before this Government realise that they must back membership of the single market and the customs union?

The Government are seeking a successful deal for the whole UK, including Scotland. Four times as much of Scotland’s business is with the UK as with the rest of Europe. The worst thing for Scottish jobs and businesses would be to split up our United Kingdom.

Last week, the Scotch Whisky Association expressed concerns at the SNP policy of keeping Scotland in the single market. What assurances can my hon. Friend give to companies and people in my constituency that we are trying to get access to the single market, but that we will also have the right to do deals elsewhere in the world so that we take forward Scotland’s economy, rather than holding it back like Opposition Members?

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point in speaking up for his constituents and the businesses within it. I have met the Scotch Whisky Association on a number of occasions to discuss the global opportunities for Scotch whisky. We must ensure that we have the flexibility to take them.