Almost 750 days on since the EU referendum, the chaotic UK government has finally published a Brexit plan.
But rather than bringing people together, the proposals have prompted more Tory infighting and are unlikely to be agreed with the European Commission.
Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit, we all know that. But if the UK is to leave the European Union, we want the best possible deal for Scotland.
The Scottish Government has set out in detail a compromise plan that could protect Scotland from the worst impacts of Brexit.
Here are just three things that should have been in the White Paper.
1. A ‘Norway-style’ deal that protects jobs and living standards
A ‘Norway-style’ deal – where we stay in the Single Market – is the least worst option for Scotland’s economy.
Norway is not a member of the EU but, in almost all areas, Norwegian businesses trade across the EU without extra charges or barriers. That’s because Norway, like Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, is in the Single Market.
Scottish Government analysis has found that, if the UK were to remain in the Single Market, Scotland’s GDP would be £8.7 billion higher than leaving the EU with no deal.
2. A deal that ensures Scotland can attract people to work here and support public services
Over the next 25 years the number of people aged over 75 in Scotland will increase by 80 per cent. That’s a good thing, but it also means there will be more demand on our NHS, with less people in work to support public services through taxes.
Over the last few years the working age population of Scotland has gone up – meaning more people paying taxes – partly thanks to the contribution of workers from the rest of Europe. Brexit could now reverse that increase in our working age population.
By staying in the Single Market, Scotland can continue to attract people to come here to work and support our public services. And with additional powers over immigration Scotland could create new immigration rules that meet the most pressing needs of our economy.
3. A deal that keeps Scotland safe
The EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned that the UK’s current negotiating position could leave the UK out of the European Arrest Warrant system. That would make it harder to catch criminals who have fled to other EU countries – or send them back to face justice.
We are clear: there must be no reduction in our ability to cooperate with other European countries and agencies to tackle crime.