New Brexit threats to standards and trade

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson

CONSTITUTION Secretary Angus Robertson has said the UK Government must pull back from provoking a “catastrophic” trade war with the EU.

Europe Minister Neil Gray wrote to the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warning of the potential economic damage when it first emerged that the UK Government was drafting a new law to disregard parts of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.

No response has been received, and Mr Robertson has today further expressed his concern following further reports of the UK Government’s intentions today.

Mr Robertson said the “disastrous impact” of Brexit on Scotland would be further compounded by the “Brexit freedoms bill”, announced today in the Queen’s Speech, which could drive a race to the bottom in standards as the UK Government considers abandoning legislation that has protected Scottish interests for almost 50 years.

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson said:

“Today there are new reports that the UK Government is preparing to scrap large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol – a key element of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

“Europe Minister Neil Gray wrote to the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on 22 April asking if such a move was being considered and warning of the damage that this could cause to Scotland’s economy.

“We have received no response, and are left once again to read in the media that a new law is indeed being considered – despite UK ministers reportedly being warned this could spark a trade war in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

“Such a move would be catastrophic and the UK Government must pull back, and focus instead on dialogue with our EU partners and finding durable, agreed solutions. The fact that the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government are completely in the dark is unacceptable but sadly all too predictable. 

“To make matters worse we could be facing a race to the bottom as a result of further legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech which will add to the already disastrous impact of Brexit  on Scotland.”

Mr Robertson added:

“The Brexit freedoms bill is said to provide ‘new found freedoms’, but its main purpose is to give the UK Government the freedom to abandon long-established standards relating to food, food labelling, the environment, animal and plant health, and workers’ rights.

“We believe it will fire the starting pistol for a race to the bottom on standards, and is a further expansion of the hard Brexit the Scottish people did not vote for, and to which the Scottish Parliament did not consent.

“This bill has enormous ramifications across our nation’s society and economy, and yet again the UK Government has given the government of Scotland only a cursory briefing on what this Bill will contain.”

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