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Nicola Sturgeon’s masterplan for Scottish independence has been ripped to shreds with leading experts highlighting one major stumbling block the SNP has argued is one of the biggest negatives of Brexit. The Scottish Government recently released the third in a series of papers aimed at demonstrating how Scotland would function if it did indeed split from the rest of the UK. Trade and borders are two elements talked about in ‘Building a New Scotland: A stronger economy with independence’.
The SNP has launched furious attacks on Brexit, arguing it should be used as a mandate for Scottish independence as most of the country voted against a departure from the European Union in June 2016.
But many experts have argued that re-joining the EU, while reducing trade barriers and boosting trade with the bloc, would mean additional trade barriers with the rest of the UK.
This would potentially negatively impact what are currently much bigger trade flows between Scotland and the rest of the UK, making it less than certain that re-joining the EU would boost growth.
Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics at King’s College London and Senior Fellow at the UK in a Changing Europe told Express.co.uk: “One of the big issues in this paper is new trade barriers with the UK.
Nicola Sturgeon has come in for huge criticism over a major point in her Scottish independence plan
The First Minister wants to hold a Scottish independence referendum in October 2023
“If, as the paper correctly states, Brexit has damaged the UK and Scottish economy by raising trade barriers with the EU, then it follows almost automatically that Scexit, by raising trade barriers between Scotland and England/Wales, will damage the Scottish economy.
“This will only partially be compensated by reduced barriers with the EU, just as UK trade deals with the rest of the world can only partially compensate for Brexit.
“So, while the paper is correct that Brexit is a negative economic consequence for Scotland of being part of the UK, it is not one that can be reversed by Scexit, which at least in the short term would make things even worse.
“Overall, there is no reason that over the medium to long term Scotland could not be a well-run and prosperous country outside the UK. However, the transition is likely to be difficult and painful, and in the short run to involve significant economic costs.”
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Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs and Northern Ireland spokesperson, who is also the MP for Orkney and Shetland, argued putting a hard border between Scotland and England could be even worse than the situation seen in Northern Ireland.
He told this website: “I didn’t want the UK to leave the EU but one of the things we have learned because of that is that those concerns about things like borders, for example, are real.
“They are not scaremongering and if you look at the difficulties that have been caused by putting a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland, then you have to think that the difficulties caused by putting a hard border between Scotland and England would be even. worse.
Mr Carmichael added: “In many ways, the arguments for Scottish independence are very similar to the ones for Brexit. It’s about taking back control; it’s about breaking up a political and economic union.
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Alistair Carmichael lashed out at Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish independence plan
“When I was in government, I was told you don’t need to do things to please the markets as the markets will stay and will always want to support the UK economy. You can see recently the dangers of taking the markets for granted.
“The SNP are trying to use Brexit as a lever to achieve Scottish independence but that is a strategic error on their part because the key for independence is actually undermined by the Brexit experience.”
In the document, ‘Building a New Scotland: A stronger economy with independence’, the Scottish Government states: “We propose that an independent Scotland should apply to re-join the European Union, opening our borders with Europe, and with Northern Ireland, again.
“The economic opportunities of re-joining the EU as a member state in our own right for the first time are potentially enormous. The EU is the largest single market in the world.
Independence could be extremely costly for Scotland
“The most recent available data, for 2019, shows that the value of Scotland’s manufactured goods exports to the EU and the rest of the world (£19 billion) was higher than the value of exports to the rest of the United Kingdom (£11 billion).
“Because of the power of the EU as the world’s largest trading bloc, being an EU member state boosts trade both within the EU itself and the rest of the world. The EU is the top trading partner for 80 countries. In contrast Brexit is damaging trade both within and outside the EU.”
The document goes onto say checks on goods between Scotland and the EU, and Northern Ireland, “would be eliminated”, which the Scottish Government claimed would be a “further competitive advantage”.
It also states “the UK will also remain a strong trading partner for Scotland” and that the Scottish Government would put in place measures to smooth any checks required as a result of Brexit on goods moving to and from England and Wales”.