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The Scottish Government undertook extensive preparation for a potential no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October, as set out in our “Scottish Government overview of ‘no deal’ Brexit preparations” document, which was published on 8 October.
Although an extension to article 50 has been agreed, as a responsible Government, we will continue to do everything that we can do to prepare until the threat of a no-deal Brexit is ruled out, and we will continue to keep Parliament updated. However, it simply will not be possible to mitigate all the impacts of leaving the EU without a deal, should that transpire.
As the cabinet secretary will be aware, Tory Government ministers are on the record as ruling out extending the transition period past 2020. Under the terms of Boris Johnson’s deal, if no free-trade agreement is reached by the end of 2020 and no extension is in place, we will, in effect, again face the cliff edge of a hugely disastrous no-deal Brexit, with all the damage to jobs and livelihoods that it will cause.
Does the cabinet secretary agree that the only way to guarantee that a no-deal Brexit is permanently taken off the table is for Scotland to become an equal and independent member of the European Union?
Unsurprisingly, I agree whole-heartedly with Keith Brown. As he said, that is the only way that we can move on from constant uncertainty to a position of certainty about the future. [Interruption.]
A Conservative voice is making noises on the other side of the chamber. Conservatives make noises about this issue because they know the inevitability—
The Tories can shout and argue as much as they want, but they are not democrats if they do not accept that.
I will make another point with regard to the EU position. An interesting contribution has been made in the past 24 hours by Phil Hogan, who is about to become the European Union trade commissioner, with responsibility for the trade negotiations with the UK. He has been clear about the timescale and what is expected. On the timescale, he has said that a deal could be done within 12 months, but that that can happen only if there is absolutely complete and permanent acceptance by the United Kingdom of the level playing field. However, as we know, there is a huge reluctance on the part of the UK to sign up to that and, now that the Tory party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Brexit Party, there will be absolute refusal to do so.
I have to say that we are in for a very rocky ride indeed. That is another reason why Scotland should choose independence.
Can the Scottish Government provide me with an update on its planning in relation to potential medicines shortages that might result from a catastrophic no-deal exit from our European neighbours?
There are great concerns regarding medicine supplies, which we must take extremely seriously. A lot of work has been done by the Scottish Government to ensure continuity of supply. However, nothing can ever be completely guaranteed, so in the circumstances we will have to ensure that we keep under review all the issues related to stockpiling of medicines, all the issues that relate to ensuring that priority goods are given priority, and all the considerations that exist in respect of a range of other issues, as we did in our no-deal preparations.
It is utterly irresponsible of any Government to create circumstances in which people who are vulnerable and who suffer from illnesses are nervous about provision of the core medicines that they require. That is unforgivable, and the UK Government stands condemned in that regard. Any UK minister or Scottish Tory who supported that should hang their head in shame.