A special Brexit deal for Scotland, similar to that granted to Northern Ireland, could lead to border checks on goods travelling to-and-from England, BBC Scotland’s business editor has claimed.
Douglas Fraser was commenting on Nicola Sturgeon’s demand that Scotland be granted the same special deal as Northern Ireland when the UK leaves the EU. The First Minister has warned that Northern Ireland will have a significant advantage over Scotland if the province is allowed to remain in the Single Market with Scotland forced to leave.
Commenting on the imbalance that would result if Scotland is ignored, Fraser echoed the warning of the First Minister, saying of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement: “It keeps Northern Ireland within the UK market and within the European Union market as well, potentially being a bridgehead for both, so very attractive for inward investors.
“And from Scotland’s perspective, Northern Ireland would be at a competitive advantage if that came to pass.”
The BBC business editor insisted that a similar deal for Scotland, whilst offering frictionless trade between Scotland and the rest of the European Union, would put Scotland at a competitive advantage over England.
He said Scotland: “… would have frictionless trade with the rest of the European Union. Industrial and food standards would be recognised as remaining fully aligned with EU rules, that would put it at an advantage over English business when trading with the European Union.”
However Fraser warned that giving Scotland a similar arrangement to that of Northern Ireland could lead to increased customs checks at the border with England.
He added: “But on some issues where you get differences in regulation on food safety standards for instance, you could potentially see more checks on trade between Scotland and England.”
Threats of customs checks at the border between Scotland and England were made repeatedly throughout the Scottish independence referendum.
In March 2012, then Home Secretary Theresa May said: “If there was a separate Scotland there could very well be a some sort of border check, but what that would be, to what extent that would be necessary, would depend on the issues about whether Scotland was in Schengen.”
That the warning has now been resurrected by BBC Scotland’s business and economy editor will fuel speculation that some within the BBC are seeking to undermine the Scottish government’s Brexit stance.
Sixty two percent of voters in Scotland opted to remain in the European Union, with only thirty eight per cent voting to leave. The SNP has demanded Scotland’s view be respected and the nation be allowed to remain in the Customs Union and Single Market after Brexit.