The UK Government must be open about its assessment of the potential impact of Brexit, Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, has said.
Mr Russell has today written to David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, following press reports on a UK Government paper warning of possible shortages in food, medicines and petrol following a no-deal Brexit.
He reaffirms the Scottish Government position that the UK Government should rule out a no-deal outcome, and for the devolved administrations to be fully involved in contingency planning.
The text of the letter is as follows:
“I have read with concern the report in yesterday’s Sunday Times of a confidential assessment by the UK Government of the impact of the UK leaving the EU with no agreement.
“The picture that the article paints of the immediate adverse consequences for supplies of food, medicines and fuel is alarming but not at all surprising for those of us who have been warning of the dangers of complacency about “no deal” scenarios. The UK Government must now make a categorical commitment that it will rule out a no deal outcome.
“It is also, of course, becoming ever more clear that the consequences of leaving the EU even with an agreement will be long-term damage to the interest of all parts of the UK.
“The article and the commentary that it is has prompted, including criticism of the civil service for apparently doing its job, illustrate the need for the UK Government to be open about its assessments of the impact in all scenarios, with or without an agreement with the EU. It cannot be right to expect the public to support Brexit as a matter of blind faith in a climate where talk of risks or adverse consequences is suppressed. Nor should decisions about the UK’s approach to be taken without fully informed democratic scrutiny.
“The article also highlights the need for the devolved governments to be fully involved in the UK Government’s contingency planning. Food security and the operation of the Health Service and the Scottish transport system are central to the responsibilities of the Scottish Government. It is essential to the interests of all those we serve that we are meaningfully engaged in your planning on these and a wide range of other matters.
“I trust that there will be an opportunity for us to discuss as a matter of urgency how that can be made to happen, and I would therefore ask that this issue be added to the agenda of the next meeting of JMC (EN).”