EU membership ‘worth billions to Scots economy’

The Scottish government’s constitutional relations secretary Michael Russell said on Thursday that short of remaining in the EU, staying in the European Single Market and Customs Union is now the only “credible and workable plan” for Brexit negotiations.

Following the latest meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations, Russell highlighted the impact of leaving the Single Market on the services sector, which makes up around three quarters of the Scottish economy.

Scottish Government analysis shows leaving the European Single Market could cost around £2,300 per person by 2030, while future opportunities from the services single market could be worth £3.6 billion to the Scottish economy — the equivalent of £670 per person.

Russell said: “This was a deeply disappointing meeting where UK Ministers again failed to take seriously the magnitude of the situation now facing us.

“For example, services employ more than 2.1 million people in Scotland and contributed £104 billion to the Scottish economy in 2017-18.

“The sector is essential to Scotland but, despite its enormous economic significance, the UK Government wants to pull out of the Single Market for services.

“In contrast, the Scottish Government’s proposal to stay in the Customs Union and Single Market – which is eight times the size of the UK market alone – will ensure service providers continue to benefit from barrier-free trade across Europe.

“Short of staying in the EU, it is the only workable and credible option left.”

The UK Government’s post-Brexit immigration intentions were also discussed at the meeting.

Russell said: “Leaving the Single Market and freedom of movement will be disastrous for Scotland: the consequences of the UK Government’s stated intentions will be a fall in the number of people working and contributing to our public services.

“The evidence is clear but the views of businesses and the devolved nations have been ignored.”