Scottish Trade Minister Ivan McKee is eager to promote his countries trade links with the rest of the European Union.
McKee is a member of Scotland’s devolved Parliament and is the Scottish government’s Trade, Investment and Innovation Minister. He is a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which advocates for Scottish independence from the UK.
In an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, he explained that despite the ongoing political chaos and uncertainty around Brexit, there are a number of messages we wanted to get across and one of the key ones is that “Scotland is very much open for business”.
“We have got long and deep trade links with Europe, with Germany and with Hamburg in particular and it was important to reinforce those and to look for opportunities to increase trade between Scotland and that part of Germany,” he said.
According to McKee, Brexit and the confusion around this is making Scotland’s job even harder. “But we are working as hard as we can to make sure we maintain and enhance those links everywhere we can, particularly in Europe”.
“I think people understand the unfortunate situation that the UK government has got itself into,” he added. “I think they welcome very much the message that the Scottish government communicates around about our desire to stay as close to Europe as possible, the fact that we think — and the people of Scotland overwhelmingly think — that Brexit is a mistake, the fact that we want to keep Scotland in the customs union and the single market and to continue to trade as freely as possible with the rest of Europe.”
Asked about Brexit, McKee said Scotland’s position is that there are two options to move forward from the current “mess”. The first is a solution that keeps the UK as a whole in the customs union and single market. The second is another referendum.
“Clearly Brexit is damaging for the UK and it is damaging for Scotland’s economy and at the moment, that is our primary focus — to protect Scotland’s economy and its jobs That is very much what we are working to protect, by bringing about a change in the Brexit decision or by insuring there is a Brexit that keeps us in the customs union and single market and minimizes that damage.”
Asked whether Northern Ireland would be given unfair advantages over Scotland under the current Brexit plans, McKee confirmed that this is indeed the case.
“Absolutely. If a part of the UK like Northern Ireland finds itself in a place where it can trade freely within Europe and at the same time trade within the UK, then clearly any inward investors looking at that scenario would find that attractive. It would certainly put Scotland at an economic disadvantage when we are competing for those kinds of investments.”