United Kingdom Internal Market

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th August 2020.

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Photo of Dean Lockhart Dean Lockhart Conservative

I am finding it difficult to pick my way through that question. However, I say to Jenny Gilruth that all the stakeholders are asking the Scottish Government to agree the key common frameworks that will apply in the key sectors. That cannot be done if there is no constructive engagement with the UK Government.

I will address the question of dispute resolution and oversight, because there is confusion on the SNP’s side about that, too. The UK proposes an independent body—it will be independent of all Parliaments—responsible for monitoring and advising on the evolution of the internal market and for providing expert guidance to devolved Administrations.

We agree that additional clarity is required on that point, but the UK Government has made it clear that the advice of the independent body will not be legally binding on any of the devolved Administrations. Therefore, the SNP’s claims that the body would prevent regulatory divergence or policy innovation are simply not correct.

The SNP has accused the UK Government of taking a political and not an economic approach to the internal market. However, we all know that it is the SNP that is approaching the proposals with political cynicism. Let us face it: the SNP has no interest in making a success of the UK internal market. It is, after all, its policy to separate from that market.

We recognise that the internal market white paper raises a number of questions, and the UK Government has committed to provide answers in short order. The net effect of the proposals will be that 60 per cent of Scotland’s trade will be safeguarded in this time of economic crisis, and this Parliament will have more powers than ever—powers that the SNP wants to hand straight back to Brussels, in what would be the biggest power surrender in the history of this Parliament.

I move amendment S5M-22437.3, to leave out from “UK Government” to end and insert:

“Scottish Government to engage constructively with the UK Government on all legislative and other measures being undertaken to safeguard the integrity of the UK internal market, while also safeguarding the powers of devolved administrations to pursue competent policy divergence; understands concerns that any barriers to trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK internal market would be detrimental for jobs, businesses, consumers and citizens across Scotland, given that over 60% of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK and that over 550,000 jobs in Scotland are directly supported by this trade, and recognises that it is vital to secure Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK in light of the unprecedented economic crisis caused by COVID-19.”