European Interest

Scotland’s Sturgeon warns UK against leaving single market

Flickr/Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916/CC BY-ND 2.0
“If Brexit is to proceed, staying in the single market is the only option that makes sense,” said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is making her case for keeping the UK in Europe’s single market “more loudly than before”.

Speaking in Edinburgh on January 15, she presented the findings of new research published by the Scottish government. She said: “If Brexit is to proceed, staying in the single market is the only option that makes sense.”

According to the analysis, which Sturgeon said was “more detailed and extensive than anything so far provided by the UK government”, Scotland’s economy would be worse off to the tune of £12.7bn a year by 2030 if the UK to quit the European Union with no deal

As reported by The Irish Examiner, this is equivalent of £2,300 for every person north of the border. The analysis also showed that real disposable income and business investment could both fall by about 10%.

According to Sturgeon, keeping Britain in the single market is “the least damaging option by far” with disposable income falling by 1.4% and with business investment expected to be about 3% lower.

“It is clear from these figures that staying in the single market does not insulate us from the costs of leaving the EU but it will minimise those costs” said Sturgeon. “Indeed, compared to a hard Brexit staying in the single market will benefit us to the tune of £1,600 per head – £1,600 for every person in Scotland.

“What the modelling in this paper shows beyond any doubt is if the economy, living standards and investment are our priorities, staying within the single market is absolutely essential to minimise the damage of leaving the EU,” she added.

The document looked at what could happen under the “only realistic outcomes of Brexit” – remaining in the single market, the UK striking a trade deal with Europe that is similar to Canada’s or a no deal Brexit.

“None of these options are as good as staying within the European Union,” said Sturgeon. “Our economy will take a hit under all of them. However, the least damaging option by far is staying in the single market.”

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has made clear her commitment to getting a good deal which serves the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom, and that we are confident of doing so.  We have been clear that we are carrying out extensive preparations in relation to delivering Brexit and the will of the British people.”

In related news, the BBC noted that the Scottish government has also argued strongly in favour of free movement of people.

The research notes that due to “demographic challenges” facing Scotland, all of the increase in population projected over the next decade results from immigration. It states: “Without immigration, the number of people of working age, working and paying towards public services in Scotland, is likely to fall”.

Meanwhile, a UK government spokeswoman said: “Rather than trying to undermine the result of a democratic referendum, we urge the Scottish government to work with us to ensure, as we leave the EU, we protect the UK’s vital internal market.”

“Scotland trades four times as much with the rest of the UK as it does with the EU, so it is vital that we ensure that market continues unimpeded,” she added.

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