Brexit: Raab addresses ‘outlandish’ EU fishing proposals
Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell called for no deal to be ruled out “immediately”. His demand comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the UK and EU “remain very far apart” on key sticking points, as talks continue in a bid to reach a last-minute breakthrough.
Mr Russell said: “It is now time for the crippling uncertainty over the future of our trading relationship with the European Union to come to an end.
“Whatever the outcome of these protracted talks we know there will be very significant damage to Scotland’s economy and society because of the UK Government’s decision to leave the transition period on December 31 in the middle of a pandemic and a recession.
“But we also know that the worst outcome of all would be the disastrous impact of a no-deal Brexit which would lead to significant tariffs and the UK Government must rule this out immediately.”
Mr Russell also furiously hit back at Scottish Office minister David Duguid’s claim that any trade tariffs imposed as a result of a no-deal Brexit were “not the end of the world”.
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Mr Duguid told the BBC: “We talk about financial tariffs, we talk about non-tariff barriers, these are all the things we’re trying to avoid with a free trade agreement.
“We export from countries we don’t have free trade agreements with, on Australia terms for example, which is the expression often used.
“It doesn’t stop exports, it doesn’t stop trade.”
But Mr Russell branded the claim “nonsense”.
He said: “Tariffs on land, for example, a big issue in Scotland, would be 60 percent. That’s not currency fluctuation, that’s disaster.”
Mr Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed during a phone call earlier today to continue trade negotiations beyond the Sunday deadline they previously set.
Speaking from Downing Street after the call, the Prime Minister said: “We are always happy to talk and to make progress where we can.
“I do think, as I say, there is a deal to be done if our partners want to do it.
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“But we remain very far apart on these key issues.
“And you know what they are – the UK can’t be locked into the EU’s regulatory orbit and we’ve obviously got to take back control of our fisheries four-and-a-half years after people voted for it.
“So those are the points. I think that it is very clear what the UK is talking about, let’s see what we can achieve.
“But in the meantime, get ready, with confidence, for January 1 – trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms if we have to.”
Fishing and the so-called level playing field remain the biggest obstacles to an agreement.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted that the Government feels there needs to be political movement among Europe’s leaders rather than a technical breakthrough in the conversations between chief negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier.
Mr Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “We want to be treated like any other independent self-respecting democracy.
“If the EU can accept that at a political level then there’s every reason to be confident, but there is still, I think, a long way to go.”
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