Brexit: Mundell urges SNP to join ‘Team UK’

MP David Mundel speaks at the  Conservative Party Conference in Glasgow. Picture; John Devlin

MP David Mundel speaks at the Conservative Party Conference in Glasgow. Picture; John Devlin

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David Mundell has made a plea to the Scottish Government to join “Team UK” to ensure the country gets the best deal from Brexit.

The Scottish Secretary insisted the governments in London and Edinburgh have similar goals - even though First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to keep Scotland in the single market when the UK leaves the European Union.

There are a whole range of areas where “Scotland’s two governments want the same outcomes as we leave the EU”, Mr Mundell said.

These include reaching an agreement on the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK, with the Scottish Secretary saying the Tories at Westminster want to “secure their right to stay as quickly as we can”.

He told the Scottish Conservative conference in Glasgow that former SNP leader Alex Salmond had said “he agreed EU nationals would be protected” after Brexit.

Mr Mundell said: “So even where the Scottish and UK governments disagree about the means, we largely seek the same ends. We want the same outcomes.

“And I genuinely believe we can do what the people of Scotland want and expect us to do - work together to deliver the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK.”

He insisted the UK is “committed to protecting and enhancing workers’ rights” after the UK leaves the EU, and also wants to “continue our close collaboration with European partners on science and innovation”.

He said: “We will continue to work with the EU on security, to fight terrorism and uphold justice across Europe.

“Free trade with the EU is also the Scottish Government’s priority. We want the freest trade possible between the UK and the EU, and we will pursue an ambitious free trade agreement.”

He went on to tell the SNP: “There will be more powers for Holyrood because of Brexit. Powers that the SNP would hand back to Brussels in a heartbeat.

“Funny, isn’t it, how they won’t remind Scotland’s fishermen they would be back in the Common Fisheries Policy under SNP policy. Or that farmers would keep the bureaucracy of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“The SNP need to give up the games. Come with us. Work with us. Together as one Team UK. Because that is how we will get the best deal from the EU.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has negotiated with the UK Government in good faith.

“However, so far UK ministers have refused to match our compromises with any of theirs.

“In December last year we set out a series of proposals to the UK Government which make clear the importance of single market membership to our economy and sets out proposals to protect Scotland’s interests to mitigate the worst damage of a hard Brexit, which could cost 80,000 Scottish jobs within a decade.

“These were put forward in the spirit of seeking consensus. However, so far these have been ignored.

“We have also called repeatedly for the status and rights of EU nationals to be secured - something UK ministers have the power to do immediately but have so far failed to act on, causing huge anxiety to many families here in Scotland and across the rest of the UK.

“It is clear that it is only the Scottish Government who has made any effort at a compromise or to secure an agreement.

“It is time that the Prime Minister fulfils the commitment she gave back in July for full engagement with Scotland, and for Article 50 not to be triggered until there are objectives for negotiations that deliver a Brexit that works for the whole of the UK.”