Scotland ‘must have voice in Brexit trade talks’

31 Aug 18

Scotland must have a guaranteed role in future trade negotiations under a radical overhaul of arrangements post-Brexit, according to the Scottish Government.

A new discussion paper proposes a statutory requirement that new trade agreements must be agreed by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament.

An enhanced role for Holyrood in the formulation, agreement and implementation of deals would not only help industry but also protect devolved public services and ensure the highest standards of environmental and consumer protection, it said.

This would prevent the “unacceptable” imposition of trade deals by the UK government, which would open up Scotland’s NHS to private competition, the paper said.

The paper also recommends the establishment of a statutory inter-governmental trade committee to discuss all aspects of international trade, along with the establishment of an appropriate dispute resolution process.

So far, the UK Government’s approach had been to put the involvement of the devolved nations on a par with sectoral interests, it said, and current arrangements were “out of date, under strain and in urgent need of reform”.

Constitutional relations secretary Michael Russell said the Scottish Government had consistently argued that the best future for Scotland and the UK was to remain in the EU, or at least in the single market and customs union.

“But we must do everything we can to protect Scotland’s interests in future trade deals in all possible Brexit outcomes,” he said.

“The discussion paper makes a strong case for the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament having a guaranteed role in the development of trade arrangements and ensuring that the views of the Scottish Parliament are respected.”

This would bring clear benefits for Scottish producers, exporters and consumers, said Mr Russell.

However, a spokesperson for the Department for International Trade said the people of Scotland, and the UK as a whole, would have “far more involvement” in future UK trade agreements than over current EU deals.

“We are committed to working with the devolved administrations on an approach to trade negotiations that delivers the best for the UK as a whole,” he said.  

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