Scottish ministers submit Brexit plan to UK government

PUBLISHED: 14:52 05 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:52 05 July 2018

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon

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Scottish ministers have submitted their own "realistic and workable" Brexit proposals to the UK government ahead of crunch Cabinet talks at Chequers.

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They include a plan to retain membership of the European single market and remain part of the customs union.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said "the time is fast approaching for the prime minister to face down those who would take us over the cliff edge" by backing a so-called Soft Brexit.

Cabinet ministers are due to gather at the prime minister's country retreat tomorrow to thrash out a White Paper setting proposals for the UK's future relationship with the EU, which can then be put to European leaders in negotiations.

Writing in the Daily Record newspaper, Ms Sturgeon said: "With more and more senior business figures starting to break cover and make clear that they will be taking jobs and investment out of the UK in the event of a no-deal scenario, the time is fast approaching for the prime minister to face down those who would take us over the cliff edge.

"That would mean, at a minimum, staying in the customs union and in the single market, which is about eight times bigger than the UK market alone. That is overwhelmingly in the interests of Scotland and of the UK as a whole.

"But nothing the Tories have done in the last two years suggests that rationality, common sense or the best interests of the country as a whole will prevail."

Scottish constitutional relations secretary Michael Russell put forward the Scottish Government's contribution to the plan as a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations took place in London.

Scottish and Welsh ministers had previously demanded access to a draft of the White Paper, stating they would have no "meaningful opportunity" to help shape the UK's stance otherwise.

Mr Russell said: "Brexit is only a matter of months away, but we still have not seen the UK government position on key issues such as customs arrangements, emerging options for negotiation positions or the full draft White Paper.

"That is why, in the absence of detailed and meaningful discussion with the UK government, we now feel compelled to publish our own realistic and workable proposals for our future relationship with the European Union.

"This reiterates and builds on the consistent, detailed and evidence-based positions put forward by the Scottish Government since the EU referendum in 2016.

"We continue to make the case for continued membership of the European single market and the customs union as a compromise that respects the democratic decision of both Scotland and other parts of the UK.

"While that respect has yet to be reciprocated, we continue to work in a constructive spirit in sharing this publication with the UK government - and in that spirit I hope the prime minister will place it on the table as a contribution when the UK Cabinet meet tomorrow."

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