As Boris Johnson takes his seat as Prime Minister of the UK, representatives of Scotland, Wales and the EU have urged him to consider the impact of Brexit.
The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group (BSG), headed by MEP Guy Verhofstadt, has issued a statement wishing the new prime minister well and declaring their commitment to open, constructive Brexit negotiations. The BSG’s statement reaffirms the necessity of enshrining the rights of UK and EU citizens and establishing a comprehensive solution to the issue of the Irish border; as well as noting the impact of Brexit on economic and trade arrangements.
The BSG statement adds: ‘The BSG notes that recent statements, not least those made during the Conservative Party leadership campaign [when Johnson declared his intention to leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal], have greatly increased the risk of a disorderly exit of the UK. It points out that a no-deal exit would be economically very damaging, even if such damage would not be inflicted equally on both parties.’
Meanwhile Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Johnson highlighting the potential impact of Brexit on the socioeconomic status of Scotland, which voted predominantly to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. Sturgeon’s letter says: ‘You will be aware that people in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union. Subsequent Scottish Government analysis shows that a no-deal outcome could cost 100,000 Scottish jobs. Even a free trade agreement could see a fall in Scottish national income of around £1,600 [€1,796.67] per person compared with continuing EU membership. I urge you to study this analysis closely so that you understand the implications for Scotland of the policy you are pursuing on Brexit and why it is therefore imperative that you change course immediately to avoid causing lasting harm to the people of Scotland.’
Sturgeon’s letter further details the intention of the Scottish National Party, Scotland’s ruling political party, to implement a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK, saying: ‘given your public comments about leaving the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, “come what may” and “do or die”, it is now – more than ever – essential that in Scotland we have an alternative option.’
Sturgeon has also partnered with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford to sign a joint letter to the new prime minister, decrying his failure to rule out a no-deal Brexit and calling for greater unity between the member nations of the UK. They urge stronger consideration of the particular needs of Scotland and Wales, both in terms of the impact of Brexit and with regard to wider government concerns such as immigration and international diplomacy.
The First Ministers urge Johnson to allow a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, saying: ‘It would be unconscionable for a UK government to contemplate a chaotic no-deal exit and we urge you to reject this possibility clearly and unambiguously as soon as possible. We are also clear the decision about EU exit must now be put back to the people. It is the policy of both governments that the UK Parliament should legislate for a further referendum. If such a referendum is held we will argue strongly that the UK should remain in the EU.’