Russell: UK must rule out unthinkable Brexit no-deal

Scotland’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell said on Monday the UK Government must rule out an “unthinkable” Brexit no-deal.

Russell called on the UK Government to commit to remaining in the European Single Market and Customs Union.

He urged the UK Government to live up to its commitment to fully engage with UK’s devolved administrations.

Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the EU by 62% to 38% — but the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%.

All 32 council areas in Scotland returned majorities to remain in the EU.

Commenting as the third round of negotiations between the UK Government and the EU got underway, Russell said: “Today the UK Government must make clear – without delay – that no deal is not only a bad outcome, it is an unthinkable outcome.

“More and more people across business and in our communities are expressing their concern at the damage being done to our economy and public services.

“This is no time for brinkmanship.

“By ruling out a ‘no deal’ outcome at least some of that damage can be limited.

“In just eight weeks the 27 EU Member States will consider whether there has been ‘sufficient progress’ in the negotiations.

“The clock is ticking yet we are running out of time to ensure we have transitional and longer term arrangements to protect, as much as possible, the interests of Scotland, the UK and the EU.

“It took far too long – a full year – for the UK Government to finally agree that a transitional period was required at all.

“We strongly believe the best long-term option, short of EU Membership, is to remain in the European Single Market and Customs Union.

“This is essential for Scotland’s economy.

“A commitment from the UK Government to achieving that would enable negotiators to move on to other important measures, such as cooperation on justice and security, and collaboration on science and innovation.

“The UK Government’s recent position papers have been prepared without the involvement of the devolved administrations.

“The papers confirm the benefits of EU membership, yet bafflingly assume those benefits can be maintained while leaving the EU, Single Market and Customs Union – a position that has been met with derision.

“I continue to call on the UK Government to live up to the commitment to fully engage with devolved administrations.

“As part of that the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations must be reconvened immediately.”