EU-UK Partnership: EU’s Mandate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:28 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:28 pm, 4th June 2020

I am not sure I follow that intervention. I am not going to be pulled off my track by it, because I do not want to take up too much time.

The global economy is declining fast and we must do everything we can to give business the best support for recovery from that decline. The next couple of years will be crucial. Ending the European Union withdrawal transition period at the end of this year would subject Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole to an entirely unnecessary second economic and social shock on top of the covid crisis. More jobs would be lost, living standards would be hit and essential markets and opportunities for recovery would be damaged. For the many businesses that manage to survive the covid crisis, this second, Brexit-related shock could be the final straw.

Yesterday, the Scottish Government published a report indicating that ending the transition this year would result in Scottish gross domestic product being between £1.1 billion and £1.8 billion lower by 2022 than if the transition was extended to the end of 2022. That is equivalent to a cumulative loss of economic activity of between £2 billion and £3 billion over those two years. A proportionate impact would be likely for the UK economy, so it is against the background of those figures and projections for the Scottish economy and the UK economy that the vast majority of Scotland’s elected representatives would like to see an extension of the transition period.

I do not expect the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to take what Scotland’s elected representatives vote for remotely seriously. I know that whether he is affecting a courtesy and a concern for our voices, or whether he is putting the boot into us for the benefit of his Back Benchers, Scotland is not his concern, because Scotland returns very few Conservative Members to this Parliament. However, the economic impact of failing to extend the transition will affect not just Scotland, but all the United Kingdom, including those who, in good faith—particularly in the red wall—voted for the Conservative party in England last December. Even if the Government give not a jot for the concerns of Scottish voters and the vast majority of their elected representatives, I am sure that they do give a jot for the concerns of the people who put them where they are. Many of those people, particularly working-class voters in the north and midlands of England, will be most adversely affected by the sort of double whammy of leaving at the end of this year without an agreement or an extension and the covid crisis.