PM has no mandate to take Scotland out of the Single Market

Photo of Vanessa Glynn

18 January 2017

We call on Scottish elected representatives to protect Scotland's place in the EU and the Single Market. We wish to express real disappointment that the Prime Minister in today's speech on Brexit has ignored the strong mandate in Scotland in favour of staying in the European Single Market. EMiS is writing to Scottish MSPs, MEPs and MSPs to stress the economic importance to Scotland of key Single Market policies such as freedom of movement and barrier free trade for our highest growth economic sectors.

If restrictions are placed on key EU policies such as freedom of movement of EU citizens, this could impact on key sectors in the Scottish economy such as digital technology, financial services and quality food and drink including seafood and whisky. It will also reduce population growth, which in Scotland has become a crucial driver of economic growth, and have a major negative impact on the capacity of the Scottish Government to increase tax take under its new tax powers.

I am very disappointed indeed that the Prime Minister, in her speech on Brexit at Lancaster House in London today, has ignored the strong democratic will expressed in Scotland to stay in key European policies such as the single market. EMiS was a leading campaigning body in Scotland in the run up to the referendum and made a significant contribution to a clear mandate from the Scottish people in favour of strong European engagement.

On 17th January, Theresa May set out a plan to take the UK as a whole out of the single market which constitutes a major risk to our future prosperity. Pulling us out of a huge integrated market cannot but result in more barriers to trade for our goods and services, remove our companies’ ability to seek the right staff without bureaucratic impediment and the removal of rights of all of us to travel, study and live freely across our own continent. It might be a clean break for Theresa May but it will be a dirty one in terms of lost jobs, price rises, lower employee protection and our standing as an outward looking, progressive nation. She asks what kind of country we want to be. We do not want to be a hard right-wing Little England Britain where Scotland’s voice is drowned out and we have to think ourselves lucky to hang on to the devolution we have already been given but without our place in Europe.

I am writing today to Scotland’s MSPs, MPs and MEPs to urge them to do all they can, no matter their party allegiance, to ensure that Scotland's future is protected in a manner consistent with the way Scots voted in the referendum.

The implications for Scotland are particularly serious given that many of our key growth sectors where productivity is highest are fundamentally dependent on EU nationals for their future growth. The implications for our great universities, where so many EU nationals work and study, are particularly grave. EMiS welcomed the proposals put forward by the Scottish Government to protect Scotland's place in the Single Market and believes only an integrated market with our closest partners, in the world’s biggest free trade bloc, can ensure Scotland's economic and social future.

I found it particularly disingenuous for the Prime Minister to claim that the only way the UK can regain a global role is to leave the EU. As the last 40 years of prosperity for Britain, working together with Europe and our global allies, have shown we can exercise major influence and impact on key issues such as security, world trade and climate change by working closely with our European allies as a full partner. The risk must be that disengagement from the EU reduces rather than strengthens the UK's worldwide influence. There is nothing in the Prime Minister’s plan that we cannot already do as a member of the EU, except negotiate trade deals. How much leverage are we going to have in those deals as an economy of 65million, compared with our clout as part of the EU 500million, in a hurry and desperate for new friends. If we did not like TTIP (the EU/US draft trade agreement), we ain’t seen nothing yet.