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During the period leading up to the UK general election, by long-standing convention, the Scottish Government will normally avoid making any announcements that could influence, or might reasonably be perceived to influence, the UK election campaign.
However, the Scottish Government continues to proceed with business that is necessary to ensure the proper and effective functioning of government and public services. The Scottish ministers continue to carry out their functions, supported by the civil service, in the usual way.
The public and parliamentarians are well aware of the extensive drain on public resources that is being caused by Brexit. Does the minister agree that the UK Government’s delayed budget, which is a consequence of the upcoming Brexit-focused election, will exacerbate those pressures and negatively affect this devolved Administration?
The Scottish Government is working extensively to prepare for the potential consequences of a European Union exit. As of March 2019, around 500 full-time-equivalent staff in the Scottish Government were engaged in EU exit-related work. The Scottish Government is prioritising activity in areas that will be heavily impacted by Brexit, most notably the economy, transport, food and drink, medicines, agriculture and the rural economy.
The 2019-20 budget had been prepared on the assumption that the UK would leave the EU with a deal and that there would be an orderly transition. Very difficult decisions on prioritisation would need to be taken in the event that we left without a deal.