First Minister makes a play for more powers over reserved matters and international relations in her speech on Scotland’s place in Europe
NICOLA STURGEON has today (20 December) stated that the Scottish Government should be consulted on, and have more powers in international forums that impact its future.
In a speech at Bute House to mark the publication of the Scottish Government’s plan for various brexit eventualities, Sturgeon outlined her priorities.
On top of arguing for Scotland’s retention of the single market the document, “Scotland in Europe”, advocates the bolstering of Scotland’s negotiating voice through an “independent international legal personality.”
“The Scottish people did not vote for brexit, and a ‘hard brexit’ would severely damage Scotland’s economic, social and cultural interests.” Nicola Sturgeon
In her speech. the First Minister said: “In all of this our single, overriding concern is to protect Scotland’s national interests. It is our determination to ensure Scotland’s voice is heard, and acted upon. That is the hallmark of the Scottish Government’s approach.
“The Scottish people did not vote for brexit, and a ‘hard brexit’ would severely damage Scotland’s economic, social and cultural interests. It will hit jobs and living standards – deeply and permanently. That is why we are so determined to avoid it.
“If the real and substantial risks that brexit poses to Scotland’s interests cannot be mitigated within the UK, the option of choosing a better future through independence should be open to the Scottish people.”
“It (Scotland) will also need the ability to speak in international forums through an arrangement with UK Government or by virtue of an independent international legal personality.” Scottish Government
The Scottish Government’s plan comes after a month of chaos, which have seen UK ministers dodge questions over the nature of brexit and the exact position of the UK Government on brexit negotiations with the EU.
Earlier this month the UK Supreme Court heard the arguments of the UK Government and its opponents who argued over whether the house of Commons should have a role in the triggering of the UK decision to leave the EU. Furthermore both David Davis, the UK minister responsible for Brexit and Boris Johnson, UK foreign secretary have appeared to flip-flop over whether freedom of movement was a red line for the UK Government in its negotiations with the EU. Businesses, academics and civil society groups have expressed concern over the government’s lack of clarity in what vision of Brexit it favours and will pursuit.
The Scottish Government hopes to force the UK Government to include the devolved administration of the UK’s smaller nations as “equal partners” in the brexit process, as promised by UK Prime Minister Theresa May. The newly published paper also reiterates the Scottish Government’s determination to be part of all trade negotiations that impact on areas governed from Holyrood.
“In all of this our single, overriding concern is to protect Scotland’s national interests.” Nicola Sturgeon
The document goes on to say: “It (Scotland) will also need the ability to speak in international forums and to secure agreements with other countries. This could be achieved either through an arrangement with UK Government or by virtue of an independent international legal personality.”
This international individual could be a person both outside Scotland and the UK – able through international law to liaise on Scotland’s behalf towards nations in the EU and beyond. As a result, the Scottish Government could extend it’s reach into the grey area of diplomacy which impacts on issues normally reserved to Holyrood alone. It would additionally be a way for European leaders who have expressed sympathy with Scotland’s situation, to make gestures of solid negotiations.
The Scottish Government document also sets forth that since the Scottish Government cooperates with many nations on many existing devolved areas of law and policy, it already has a degree of interaction and negotiation with entities outside the UK. However, she also stressed the need for more devolution in employment law, safety and elements of trade policy.
Picture courtesy of YouTube
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.