Brexit (Economic Impact)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th September 2021.

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Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

3. To ask the First Minister what assessment the Scottish Government has made of the on-going economic impact on Scotland of Brexit. (S6F-00322)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government estimates that the new relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom could cut Scotland’s gross domestic product by around 6.1 per cent by 2030, compared to continued EU membership. That would be equivalent to £9 billion in 2016 cash terms.

In particular, we have forecast that one of the immediate impacts will come from challenges in recruiting and retaining EU citizens as workers here. That has, indeed, proved to be the case. The fuel crisis and the labour and skills shortages that are now being experienced across the economy and in public services lay bare the economic recklessness of a hard Brexit. The UK Government pressed ahead with leaving the EU, despite repeated requests for delay. Everyone in the country is now seeing the result of that short-sighted ideology everywhere we look.

Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

The people of Scotland never voted for Brexit. We now face soaring energy prices and forecourts are running dry. A labour shortage affects sectors from care to haulage. We are even threatened with shortages of Irn Bru if the situation is not urgently addressed.

The Conservative response to that is the pathetic offer of a three-month visa for EU truck drivers. It is clear that the Tories have nothing to offer Scotland but cuts, hardship and cruelty. Their latest plans for replacing EU subsidies yet again take powers from this Parliament and threaten our plans for a green recovery.

Is the First Minister concerned about that latest power grab, and will she reaffirm her commitment, as outlined in our co-operation agreement, to offering the people of Scotland a way out of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain with a referendum on Scotland’s future, before the end of this session of Parliament?

The First Minister:

It was interesting that, as Gillian Mackay was asking that very pertinent question, the Tories were getting very twitchy. They do not like to hear or to listen to the reality of the damage that their policies are doing to people the length and breadth of Scotland. They will not be able to hide from that damage in the weeks and months to come.

Regarding immigration, in the run-up to the Brexit referendum and since, the Conservatives have given the impression that people from other countries are not welcome to work here. Now, they want people to come here for three months to help the UK Government out of its self-imposed crisis, only to send them back again on Christmas eve. That is absolutely disgraceful.

Across a range of issues today, we have heard the power of the argument for this country to be independent, so that we can take such decisions ourselves and are no longer dependent on the decisions of a UK Government, and so that we can respond to the needs of people throughout this country here, in the democratically elected Parliament of our nation.

I continue to believe, and intend, that that will be the case and that people across the country will have the opportunity to choose independence in a referendum within this session of Parliament and, I hope, within the first half of the session.

Photo of Audrey Nicoll Audrey Nicoll Scottish National Party

Does the First Minister agree that local authority budgets have been badly affected by the disastrous Tory Brexit deal? [

Interruption

.] Councils such as Aberdeenshire Council are struggling to repair potholes because contractors cite additional costs relating to supplies and staff.

The Presiding Officer:

I ask colleagues to please bear it in mind that we all wish to hear the questions that are asked. I hope that you heard the question, First Minister.

The First Minister:

I did, Presiding Officer.

People will draw their own conclusions, but the fact of the matter is that the Tories do not want people to hear these questions because they hope that people will not see the damage that Tory policies are doing to people across the country. However, people are feeling it in their jobs, in their pay packets and in their energy bills. They will see it and they will know exactly who is responsible.

On local government budgets, during a decade of Tory austerity we sought to treat local government as fairly as possible and will continue to do that. However, whether it is through austerity or Brexit, we see the damage that the Conservatives are doing, which is why more and more people think that this country should be independent.