The Scottish government has urged the UK not to withdraw unilaterally from diplomatic negotiations over Brexit.
Scottish External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop has written to the UK’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Stephen Barclay, calling on him to reconsider reported plans to withdraw UK participation from several EU working groups and committees. In the letter, Hyslop reminds the Brexit secretary that withdrawing Scotland from Brexit diplomacy participation unilaterally would be constitutionally unsound without first consulting with the Scottish government, as detailed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK and the devolved governments; which states that UK ministers must consult with their Scottish counterparts on matters which would affect devolved matters.
The letter says: “It is clear beyond any doubt that the UK Government should not take a decision on this possible step without proper involvement of the Scottish Government or other devolved administrations. Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the UK Government must involve the devolved governments as fully as possible in discussions about the formulation of the UK’s policy position on all EU and international issues which touch on devolved matters. As the MoU establishes, we have a particular interest in those many aspects of European Union business which affect devolved policy.
“More broadly, I wish to make absolutely clear that the Scottish Government would object in the strongest possible terms to the removal of the UK from EU working groups and meetings. To take such an approach would be to surrender any ability by the UK to influence EU business – despite the UK still being an EU Member State. This would be at a time when hugely important discussions are taking place and decisions being made, for example on the EU’s long term budget, fisheries negotiations and foreign affairs, which will have a significant impact on the UK and on Scotland even in the event that the UK leaves the EU.”
Ms Hyslop said: “The UK government’s pursuit of a no-deal Brexit and its determination to leave the EU on October 31 ‘come what may’ is deeply damaging for jobs, living standards and our wider economy and society. Sadly, these latest reports appear to be yet another case of Scotland’s interests being ignored during the Brexit process. The UK government should not take any decision that would affect our ability to have Scotland’s legitimate interests fully represented while the UK is still a member state and I am seeking your assurance that no such decision has been made.”