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I recognise the value of access to the digital single market. Tech is already a fast-growing sector in Scotland, and it would be a deep shame if Scotland were to miss out on the emerging opportunities of being part of the European single digital market. Brexit will have a detrimental impact on Scotland’s digital businesses, as they face increasing trade costs if United Kingdom and European Union legislation diverges.
The situation with the digital single market is akin to a luxury
400 billion cruise liner sailing off into the sunset while the UK sits in a tug boat at the jetty, wondering whether to try to follow it. One minute the UK was fully behind the plan and leading it, and the next minute we are waving goodbye to it, to the horror of information technology companies across Europe.
If we do not follow, roaming charges will be back and shared digital services and access to IT procurement contracts will be seriously restricted. Can the minister give us some assurance that Scotland’s reputation for world-class IT innovation and developments will be protected and that we will seek to maintain our links with Europe as that market develops in the future?
That is why the Scottish Government has put forward a comprehensive set of positions for us to remain part of the digital single market. We have engaged with Governments across EU member states and, despite Jeremy Hunt’s recent interventions, we will continue to engage strategically with our European partners.
As Scots head off on holiday to EU countries—as perhaps some members in the chamber will do—we will benefit from surcharge-free roaming. In a no-deal scenario, that would no longer be guaranteed. We cannot have an EU exit outcome that puts Scottish citizens and businesses at a disadvantage just as we are beginning to reap the benefits of a fast-growing tech sector.