Scottish MPs Urged to Back Brexit Deal as SNP Vows to Reject it

December 27, 2020 Updated: December 27, 2020

The UK’s Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack on Sunday urged Scottish MPs to vote for the UK-EU trade deal reached on Christmas Eve.

Jack’s statement came as Scotland’s ruling Scottish Nation Party (SNP) confirmed that its MPs will reject the deal and doubled down on calling for Scottish independence from the UK and rejoining the EU.

Ian Blackford, SNP’s leader in Westminster, said after a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group that although the SNP doesn’t have enough votes to change the outcome, it will vote to reject the deal nonetheless.

“With the Labour Party lining up behind Boris Johnson, it is clear Westminster will impose this hard Tory Brexit regardless of how Scotland votes but it is not being done in our name. It is a disaster for Scotland,” Blackford said on Sunday.

“This is a very bad deal for Scotland, which will terminate our membership of the EU, rip us out of the world’s largest single market and customs union, end our freedom of movement rights, and impose mountains of red tape, added costs and barriers to trade for Scottish businesses,” he said. “The blame lies squarely with the Tory government.”

Blackford called the Brexit deal a “devastating” blow to the economy.

“Industries and communities across Scotland will face higher costs and reduced access to EU markets. Benefits of EU membership, including our right to live, work, and study across Europe will be stripped away. Justice and security cooperation will be diminished. Even the broken promises made to our fishing communities have turned out to be another Tory pack of lies.”

Blackford said that Scotland had been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process.

“It is clear that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests, and regain the full benefits of EU membership, is to become an independent country.”

Ian Blackford
Ian Blackford MP, leader of the SNP at Westminster delivers his keynote speech at autumn conference in Aberdeen, Scotland, on Oct. 13, 2019. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Jack said the UK-EU trade deal does deliver for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

“This is a deep and wide-ranging deal, covering trade, security, travel, transport, energy, health, and social security,” he said in a statement.

“Outside the EU, the UK can sign our own trade deals around the world, bringing new opportunities for exporters and some of Scotland’s most iconic products.”

Jack urged all Scottish MPs to support the deal.

“For our farmers, the deal avoids tariffs on their world-beating Scotch lamb and beef,” he said.

“For our fishermen and coastal communities, the deal delivers what we promised,” he added. “We are regaining control of our waters, we are restoring our status as an independent coastal state and, even during the five year adjustment period, there will be a big overall increase in our share of the catch in our waters.”

Jack said British fishermen will enjoy “near-exclusive access to inshore waters up to the historic 12 mile limit” after the UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy.

“The people of Scotland will expect their MPs to do the right thing on Wednesday and vote for the deal,” Jack said. “They will not easily forgive those who reject this Free Trade Agreement or throw their weight behind a no deal Brexit.”

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attends the Scottish Parliament where she delivers an update on CCP virus restrictions in Holyrood, Edinburgh, Scotland, on Dec. 22, 2020. (Russell Cheyne/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Shortly after Jack’s statement was published, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that SNP MPs should reject the deal and work on gaining Scottish independence.

“The Brexit deal will pass regardless of how @theSNP votes. Scotland’s voice & interests are unimportant to the Westminster establishment,” Sturgeon wrote in a tweet. “Far better then for our MPs to cast a principled vote against Brexit, as we get on with winning the positive case for independence.”

In a previous statement on Saturday, Sturgeon said that Johnson’s Brexit goes against Scotland’s will.

Fishing has been one of the toughest sticking point of the Brexit negotiations.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the UK had agreed to a “reasonable” five-and-half-year transition period with the EU over fisheries, longer than the three years Britain wanted but shorter than the 14 years the EU had originally asked for.

Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, on Friday told Express.co.uk: “There is a great irony in the Westminster government fighting to defend fishing rights in waters that we are largely going to end up giving back to the Scots when they pursue independence.”

In the Brexit referendum in 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU by a small margin, but Scotland voted to remain in the bloc.

In the 2019 general election, Johnson’s Conservative Party, which had the campaign slogan “Get Brexit Done,” won an overwhelming majority in Westminster, while Sturgeon’s nationalist SNP won by a landslide in the Scottish Parliament.

Reuters contributed to this report.