MSPs call for 'bespoke' Brexit deal for Scotland

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MSPs on Holyrood's Europe committee have called for a "bespoke solution" for Scotland in the UK's Brexit deal.

Committee members penned a report calling for a Scottish solution to be included in Article 50, the starting point of the Brexit process.

Convener Joan McAlpine said Scotland's majority vote to remain inside the EU and the single market should be reflected in the coming negotiations.

However, Conservative members of the committee dissented over some points.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the Scottish Tory conference in Glasgow that the UK government would be aiming for "a deal which works for all parts of the UK - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - and for the United Kingdom as a whole".

The Determining Scotland's Future report is the latest in a series from Holyrood's culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee, which has previously called for a separate deal for Scotland over immigration.

'Profound consequences'

It claims that with Mrs May's government indicating it will not pursue membership of the single market or the European Economic Area, the UK has "lost the only opportunity for an easier Brexit".

It warns of "profound consequences for Scotland's economy and future prosperity", noting that the UK government aims to "start from scratch in establishing free trade a period when there are signs of the world becoming more mercantilist and protectionist".

Image caption,
Two members of the committee dissented from its conclusions

The committee report says moving from full EU membership to EEA membership "would be an easier transition for Scottish businesses than leaving the EU completely".

It also calls for powers not currently reserved to Westminster which are exercised at a European level, such as those over fishing and farming, to be "fully devolved" after Brexit.

Mrs May told Conservative delegates in Glasgow that devolution frameworks were drawn up "without any thought of a potential Brexit", adding that her government would "ensure that the right powers sit at the right level to ensure our United Kingdom can operate effectively and in the interests of all of its citizens".

The paper also demands a response from the UK government to the Scotland's Place in Europe paper of Scottish government Brexit proposals before Article 50 is triggered.

Bespoke solution

In the foreword, Ms McAlpine said: "Article 50 will be triggered by the UK government within days and the process will begin of negotiating withdrawal from the European Union.

"As a country of the UK which voted 62% to remain in the EU, Scotland has particular interests and concerns that must be heard.

"Our report concludes that a bespoke solution for Scotland must be considered before and after Article 50 is triggered.

"There is still scope to try to deliver the Scottish Parliament's desire that we remain in the single market and while there is no direct precedent for this, the committee agreed that a variety of differentiated arrangements already exist and a bespoke solution for Scotland could be found.

Image caption,
The committee want extra powers to come to Holyrood after Brexit

Tory committee members Jackson Carlaw and Rachel Hamilton dissented from some conclusions in the report, with their "minority view" included as an annexe.

They said the UK government had "developed an ambitious proposal to maintain a close trading relationship with the EU and to develop and deepen the UK's trade with other countries in the world".

They added: "The prime minister's commitment to pursuing a 'new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement' with the EU will ensure that Scotland and the UK can continue to trade in goods and services with the EU without tariffs or non-tariff barriers being imposed, thus reflecting the key interests of businesses in Scotland."

They also noted the UK government's goal of "agreeing a frictionless comprehensive free trade agreement" within two years, and said that Scotland could benefit from the UK's network of offices in over 100 countries when developing trading links.

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