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Irish Sea Border

– in the Scottish Parliament on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what the implications would be for Scotland of a border being established in the Irish Sea. (S5O-03696)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

As I have already said today, the Scottish Government fully and unconditionally supports the Good Friday agreement and the maintenance of an invisible border on the island of Ireland. However, the new protocol will put Scotland at a competitive disadvantage in relation to Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom Government’s plan for its future relationship with the European Union amounts to a hard Brexit—a very hard Brexit—with Scotland being forced out of the single market and customs union, while Northern Ireland will retain privileged access to the EU market.

If the border is created in the Irish Sea, as envisaged, there would be a need to consider infrastructure requirements at Cairnryan ports. That would largely be a matter for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Border Force and the ports themselves. However, Traffic Scotland would have to consider any traffic management requirements in the Dumfries and Galloway area, once more information on the UK proposals became available.

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary will be aware that, as part of the Scottish Government’s Brexit planning, the east pier in Stranraer is set to become a lorry park, to accommodate 350-plus heavy goods vehicles each day, all because of anticipated delays at the port of Cairnryan. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the potential disruption that constituents in Stranraer will be forced to put up with is a direct consequence of the incompetence of the UK Government and that the only way to ensure that such a scenario does not become a reality is to ensure that the current Conservative Government does not return to power?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I agree. I was astonished to see, in the press in Dumfries and Galloway, objections to what might happen at Stranraer from the local MP, Alister Jack. It is Alister Jack who is imposing Brexit on the people of Scotland. He should be aware of that. We are seeing nimbyism in the extreme from him.

The reality of the situation is that a responsible Government has to prepare plans in the event of there being no deal, to mitigate the worst impacts as best we can. We are working with the local resilience partnership in Dumfries and Galloway on measures to add increased stacking capacities for HGVs at Cairnryan. I have the greatest sympathy for the people of Stranraer who may have to suffer that. They should take it up with their MP, and they have the chance to do that in a direct way on 12 December.