Ignored and sidelined: Scotland’s position on a differentiated solution
“ The things we stand to lose though leaving the EU membership and the Single Market are all things that we value and we do not want to lose them, so we will look very carefully at all the options presented in order to keep as many of the benefits of EU membership as we can.”
This was the general response to our questions last January.
Article 50 has been triggered and the UK Government is still ignoring the statements in the Scottish Government’s paper three months after its publication.
Michael Russell’s demand to have Scotland’s proposals for a differentiated solution included in the letter sent to Donald Tusk was equally ignored.
Devolved matters now under threat
The report by the Commons Committee on Exiting the EU concluded that the Prime Minister will attempt to use Brexit to rewrite the devolution settlement and reserve the power to legislate in future on Scottish agriculture payments, fisheries quota and renewable energy targets.
The Scottish Government’s responses to the S.I.F. ‘s questions are therefore now rendered utterly meaningless.
Will the devolved legislatures’ views be considered ?
The Commons Committee on Exiting the EU recommended that the views of the Weslh, Scottish and Norther Irish Legislatures regarding their option papers should be considered as a matter of urgency.
Considering that the White Paper for the Great Repeal Bill wants to bring back all the powers vested in the EU to Westminster, to ensure the effective functioning of the UK Single market, its effect will be to breach the founding principles of devolution of the 1998 Scotland Act.
It thus looks increasingly unlikely that the devolved legislatures’ views will be considered to the extent wished by the Scottish Government in any case.
The Scottish government will be unlikely to be in a position to negociate or protect the islands’ interests as it stated it would.
Island Farming and crofting, Environment, Renewable Energy, EU cooperation?
It is very hard to see how the Scottish Government will now be able to negotiate with the UK Government to ensure that future financial support for initiatives that currently receive European funds is allocated on a fair and equitable basis across the UK. Looking for more devolved powers to come to Scotland is going to be very difficult if not impossible.
Independence? The only way forward to safeguard the Scottish islands’ economic well-being
S.I.F.’ will continue their dialogue with Michael Russell MSP and his team as the Brexit negotiations unfold.
But since it is very unlikely that the UK government will change its position, it does increasingly appear that the only way forward to safeguard the islands’ economy and realise their renewable energy potential is to pursue independence and stay withing the EU.