Nicola Sturgeon has set out the Scottish Government’s proposals to protect Scotland’s interests following the EU referendum.
On 23 June Scotland voted emphatically to remain in the EU.
We believe that the best way to build a more prosperous and equal Scotland is to be a full independent member of the EU. But, following the EU referendum, the First Minister said she would explore all options to protect Scotland’s national interests.
The proposals set out today seek to find a solution which enables Scotland’s voice to be heard, as well as mitigating the risks that Brexit poses to our interests.
Here’s what you need to know about the proposals.
1. At the heart of the proposals is a framework to keep Scotland’s place in the European Single Market.
A Tory hard Brexit, outside the single market, threatens to cost Scotland 80,000 jobs over a decade and cost people an average of £2,000 in wages. Retaining our place in the Single Market would avoid that.
Firstly, we will argue that the UK as a whole should remain within the European Single Market and Customs Union. Secondly, if the UK decides to leave, Scotland should remain a member of the single market and should keep some key benefits of EU membership.
Our proposal seeks to ensure Scotland continues to benefit from the European Single Market in addition to – not instead of – free trade across the UK.
2. To protect Scotland’s interests, and the rights we currently enjoy as EU citizens, the Scottish Parliament should receive substantial new powers.
Powers returning from Brussels that already lie within devolved areas – such as fishing and farming – should remain the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. Further powers, such as employment law, should be devolved to Scotland to protect key rights.
Additional powers will also need to be devolved allow the solutions set out in our Brexit plan to be implemented, including immigration powers and the power to conclude international agreements in areas the Scottish Parliament is already responsible for.
3. We do not deny the challenges in implementing our proposals but believe these can be overcome where there is political will to do so.
The whole Brexit process will be complex and unprecedented whatever the ultimate outcome. Our proposals offer practical solutions that are in the best interests of Scotland.
4. It is now up to the UK government to keep its side of the bargain. The ball is in their court.
Our proposals reflect our ambition to find as much common ground as possible and reflect a compromise on our part. We expect the UK government to show similar flexibility.
As the current member state, it will be for the UK to negotiate with the other 27 member states of the EU. We expect them to honour their commitment that Scotland is an equal partner in the UK and that we will be fully engaged in the Brexit process.
5. If Scotland’s interests cannot be protected, or are brushed aside by the UK Government, then the people of Scotland should have the right to consider independence.
The Scottish Government was elected in May on a manifesto which said the following in relation to independence:
“The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum…if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out the EU against our will.”
There is no question, therefore, about the legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland considering the question of independence in these circumstances.