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Brexit (European Union Relations)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th June 2020.

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Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

8. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding the impact of Brexit on European Union-United Kingdom relations, in light of concerns that any breakdown could have a detrimental impact, including in Scotland, on the response to issues such as the Covid-19 crisis. (S5O-04419)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

My colleague Jenny Gilruth has referred to Covid-19 in response to another question.

Some actions by the UK Government have not been positive or beneficial on Covid-19—for example, the failure to take part in arrangements for buying personal protective equipment. Recently, the UK has failed to take part in a very innocent project that would have given people information about the state of lockdown, and of the openness or otherwise of borders, across Europe. The actions of the UK Government are not helping in that regard, and will not help EU-UK relations.

Just last week, I was talking to somebody in Brussels who said that there was a palpable sense of anger about the way in which the UK has behaved to date. That will not improve, and it is not good for our reputation.

Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

What does the cabinet secretary make of the suggestion by Boris Johnson that a deal between the UK and the EU can be agreed by the end of July?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I am very sceptical about that. Deals can always be done, but what sort of deal can be done by the end of July? The UK could suddenly say that it wants to be in the single market and the customs union. I would agree that a lot of work would have to be done, but what type of deal can be done by the end of July, and how long will it take to implement? If one did a really bad deal and could not implement it in anything like the period that exists, that would be very problematic indeed. No deal would be very bad, too.

The question is whether there could be a good deal for Scotland within that timescale, which could also be implemented by the end of the year. The answer to that is an emphatic and clear no.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That concludes portfolio questions on the constitution, Europe and external affairs.

Before we move to the next item of business, I say that we have gone quite a bit over time on that slot; we cannot do that on every occasion, so I ask members and ministers to reflect on the length of questions and answers.