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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

New Scottish Government Paper exposes Damaging Impact of Brexit

This week five years ago, people in Scotland were digesting the news that they were to leave the European Union (EU).

It is not yet possible to describe the full impact that decision will have on the people of Scotland. Some consequences, such the new rules on trade, are not yet fully in force. For those that are, assessing the real impact will take many years. Nevertheless, it is clear that many of the negative impacts which were envisaged are now starting to crystallise.

In a newly published paper, the Scottish Government details a range of impacts which are each already being felt in the real world and are, importantly, illustrative of the very many other impacts likely to be felt in every part of our daily lives:

1) Trade and Economy

Academic evidence suggests the UK's exit from the EU has already had an impact on investment and the economy – in line with the Scottish Government's long-term macroeconomic modelling. Born et al (2019) estimate that the output loss in the UK due to the EU referendum vote amounts to about 2.1% of GDP at the end of the first quarter 2019.

Scottish Government modelling also indicates that in the long run, the basic Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiated by the UK Government with the EU could mean Scottish GDP is £9 billion lower (6.1%) by 2030 compared with EU membership.

2) EU citizens in Scotland

With the end of the EU Settled Status (EUSS) scheme by July 2021, potentially hundreds of thousands of EU citizens could find themselves in a 'legal limbo' according to a recent report by the UK in a Changing Europe think tank. Home Office figures show that 5,605,800 applications were received to the EUSS up to 31 May 2021, 276,600 of which were from Scotland.

3) Education

Applications to Scottish universities from students domiciled in the EU fell by 40% in 2021.

The UK Government's decision to discontinue Erasmus participation will also be acutely felt by young Scots. For them, Brexit means a sudden, unwelcome end to a life-enhancing opportunity.

4) Governance

The UK Government repeatedly and wilfully ignored the established convention of seeking the Scottish Parliament's consent (the Sewel Convention) and failed to involve the Scottish Government and the other Devolved Administrations meaningfully in preparations for the negotiations themselves. This has since been compounded by the UK Government's Internal Market Act.

5) Standards

There is very real concern that despite the assurances given at the time, EU Exit will over time lead to diminution in standards of various sorts, ranging from social protection, to animal welfare and the environment.

The recently announced trade deal with Australia will inevitably mean that Scottish farmers will be unable to compete on a level playing field with Australian imports produced at lower welfare standards.

The report makes clear that across a wide range of areas, Brexit is already having a tangible and harmful impact on the quality of life of the people of Scotland and on Scottish businesses.

Scotland is increasingly vulnerable under Westminster control. The only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Brexit and Tory governments we don't vote for, is to become an independent country.



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Kenneth Gibson SNP

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