– in the Scottish Parliament on 15th March 2023.
7. To ask the Scottish Government what its initial assessment is of the potential impact of the Windsor framework on the food and drink supply chain in Scotland. (S6O-02002)
First of all, we need to be clear that the dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol was of the United Kingdom Government’s own making, threatening what would have been a catastrophic trade war with the European Union in the middle of a cost crisis. Therefore, although the Scottish Government broadly welcomes the Windsor framework agreement, Scotland did not vote for Brexit, which has brought nothing but harm to people, communities and businesses in Scotland. The UK Government must also clarify policy on Northern Ireland to Great Britain trade and the impact on devolved responsibilities, including physical checks on food safety and animal and plant health and on associated infrastructure, such as a border control post at Cairnryan.
Indeed, Scotland is the only constituent nation of the UK to have had its vote on Brexit comprehensively ignored, threatening our food security in the process.
Given NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy’s description of what has been
“significant and costly disruption to long-established trading arrangements between Scotland and Northern Ireland”,
does the cabinet secretary agree that Scotland must be given dispensation similar to that given to Northern Ireland in the Windsor framework so that our food and drink sector has the economic security of access to the EU single market?
We have repeatedly called for the UK Government to find a negotiated solution to this entirely avoidable dispute with the EU. The Scottish Government unequivocally supports the Good Friday agreement, and we welcome the new agreement that has been announced on the Northern Ireland protocol, but the fact is that Scotland did not vote for Brexit and yet we continue to suffer from its consequences, including the exacerbation of the current cost of living crisis.
The member is quite right. Northern Ireland has now been given preferential access to the huge European single market, while Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, has been ignored by the UK Government and subjected to the full damage of a disastrous hard Brexit. Brexit has brought nothing but harm to people, communities and businesses in Scotland, and the Scottish Government remains committed to realising Scotland’s potential as an independent nation within the European Union.
I am glad that the Windsor framework will enable the resumption of trade in seed potatoes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, something that the NFUS has called a “significant breakthrough”. What assessment has the Scottish Government made of the impact of that on Scottish farming?
We broadly welcome that element of the framework, because that was trade that was switched off overnight and which we have not been able to access since. Again, though, all of this could have been avoided in the first place. Although we broadly welcome the move, the fact is that we did not need to be in this position.