Skip to main content

Scotland’s Place in Europe

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 6 December 2018

6. If he will make an assessment of the potential merits of the recommendations contained in the Scottish Government document, “Scotland’s place in Europe: assessment of UK Government’s proposed future relationship with the EU”. (908041)

As co-chair of the ministerial forum on EU negotiations, I regularly engage with Scottish Government Ministers, most recently with Ministers Dey and Wheelhouse earlier this week. They presented me with a copy of the document to which the hon. Gentleman’s question refers. The deal protects key Scottish interests, including by protecting UK geographical indications and exploring continued participation in EU programmes such as Horizon. However, contrary to the Scottish Government’s assessment, the political declaration confirms that we are leaving the common fisheries policy and does not link access to waters with access to markets.

The European parliamentary research service has estimated that a potential value of up to €1.1 trillion per year could be realised from further easement of cross-border movement of goods and services, completing the EU digital single market and increasing cross-border public procurement. Surely, the UK Government should listen to the Scottish Government and look at staying in the customs union and single market for the financial benefits that doing so will bring.

The hon. Gentleman makes the very good point that the single market in services was never completed, and it probably never will be. It is in the UK’s interests to deliver on the outcome of the referendum, move on from leaving the single market and the customs union and deliver a new relationship with the EU. Many people, including those in the party to which the hon. Gentleman belongs, told us that that would never be possible, but the political declaration makes it clear that it is.

The Government are paying lip service, at best, to the views of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government. In reality, I think they simply do not give a stuff about what people think north of the border. Yesterday, Scottish Conservative spokespeople were describing a debate in the Scottish Parliament as “needless”. Does the Minister honestly agree with them that the Scottish Parliament—and, for that matter, the Welsh Assembly—do not need to debate or vote on Brexit?

I respect the right of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly to debate whatever they want to debate, but the UK referendum to leave the EU needs to be delivered on by this UK Parliament.