Wednesday, 20 June 2018 05:19


The EU parliament’s chief Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has backed the SNP Scottish Government’s compromise position – set out in the paper ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ – to keep the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union, protecting the economy, jobs and living standards.

Taking evidence from Mr Verhofstadt at this morning’s Commons Brexit committee, the SNP’s Joanna Cherry asked whether remaining in the Single Market and Customs union would provide “a solution for the whole of the UK”. Mr Verhofstadt stated that “there will be no objection by the European side if the UK government is going in such a direction.”

Commenting, Joanna Cherry QC MP said:

“It’s vital that Scotland maintains its place in the Single Market and Customs Union – to protect our economy, jobs and living standards.

“These comments from European Parliament’s chief negotiator signal that any failure to bring forward proposals for sensible compromise are squarely the fault of the Tories.

“It’s clear, unequivocal backing for the Scottish Government’s proposals, which must now be heeded by a Tory government, which is fast hurtling towards a Brexit cliff-edge.

“While the Tories are being consumed by the chaos of Brexit and infighting on their own benches, the Scottish Government has prioritised how to protect our economy from the very worst of the damage, people’s income and livelihoods and our standards of living.

“The Tory government can no longer turn a blind eye to the overwhelming economic evidence of keeping the UK in the single market and a customs union. Time is running out for the Prime Minister and her Brexit Secretary to see sense and act before it is too late."

Transcript of exchange between SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Guy Verhofstadt:

JC: I think you’re familiar with this document “Scotland’s place in Europe” that was produced by the Scottish Government...And I think you’re familiar Mr Verhofstadt that Scotland voted 62% to remain and what the Scottish Government have done in recognition of the fact that England and Wales voted to leave and Scotland and NI voted to Remain, is to propose a compromise whereby the whole of the United Kingdom would stay in the single market and some form of a customs union. You’re aware of that proposal that was put forward by the Scottish Government.
GV: I think there is no opposition from the European side if that proposal comes to Brussels.
JC: That would solve the NI border problem as well wouldn’t it?
GV: Exactly. 

JC - So just to summarise, the parliament favour an association agreement?
GV - Exactly.
JC - But if the United Kingdom could bring itself to follow the compromise suggested by the Scottish Government of staying in the European Economic Area and a customs union, you would see that as a solution for the whole of the UK and for the Northern Irish border problem?
GV - In any way there will be no objection by the European side if the UK government is going in such a direction.

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