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European Union Withdrawal Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

I would like to make some progress, please.

I believe that the negotiators did, and are still doing, their best to offer the required comfort that there will be no hard border, but also to ensure that we do not end up in a permanent purgatory of transition.

The withdrawal agreement did one other important thing: it ensured consistency, continuity and transition for businesses in Scotland and every other part of the UK. We knew that from day 1: the Prime Minister’s Florence speech made it clear that both sides recognised that there would be a need for some form of transition. When article 50 was triggered, many businesses and business groups told politicians loudly and clearly that a two-year negotiating period, as defined in the Treaty on European Union, was simply not long enough to allow them to prepare for Brexit. They wanted and needed an extended period to help them to prepare for the new world, whatever that new world might be.

I know that, inside and outside the chamber, there are a multitude of views on what that future relationship could or should look like: the Norway model, Canada plus, Canada plus plus, the Swiss model, Turkey, the Ukraine, a customs union, the current customs union, or the full single-market access that comes with full acceptance of the four freedoms of the EU. Whatever the views on remaining or leaving, or on this model over that model, surely entering transition in 24 days must be the priority for each and every politician in the country, in order that we can secure the rights of citizens, offer business the much-needed transition and settle our financial commitments to the EU. For the life of me, I cannot think why anyone would want to oppose that.