Brexit

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd December 2020.

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Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

Oh dear—those are the questions that Mr Lockhart asked me the last time that I made a statement on this topic. Since then, we have seen the spectacle of Scottish goods not being able to get out of the country—I have constituents who have lost tens of thousands of pounds as a result of that. Since then, there has been no movement in the trade talks whatsoever, yet the dismal questioning continues.

I want to say three things to Dean Lockhart. This is the season of good will, so I will say them less forcefully than I might otherwise have. [Interruption.] There are noises off coming from a member who has strong connections with Orkney. He should remember the damage that is being done to the Orkney trade by what is happening, and when he returns to Orkney I am sure that there will be people who wish to remind him of that.

First, I cannot imagine that the current situation would have arisen had the UK been in good standing with, and been a full member of, the EU. The reality is that the UK is now a third country in a transition arrangement, so it is not true to say that there is no connection between what we have seen and what is taking place. Even if there was no connection, the situation still illustrates what could happen as a result of no deal. Even the firmest Brexiteer who sees no connection at all should read a lesson from that.

Secondly, apparently the UK Government will bring back an agreement on full access to the single market to the House of Commons, which would also come to this Parliament. It would be remarkable for that to happen, given that that is not being negotiated for and has already been ruled out. However, according to Dean Lockhart—who is in apparent daily contact with David Frost—that will take place.

I will be generous today as it is Christmas. Even if there is a proposal for us to be in the single market but not in the customs union, I would encourage my Westminster colleagues to support membership of the single market. However, I do not think that that is what we will be brought.

Finally, I support free trade, as does the SNP, this Government and the Parliament. We all know that that is the case. What we saw today and yesterday from Mr Lockhart is a rather unpleasant way of peddling half-truths, partially quoting things and trying to attack others. I wish him the compliments of the season; I also wish him a better approach in 2021.