Boris Johnson's bad Brexit deal could see Scottish firms flock to Northern Ireland – Christine Grahame MSP

I’ll come to whether Christmas is or ought to be cancelled in a moment. First let’s consider the bourach that is Brexit, remembering that Scotland voted 62 per cent Remain.
Michael Gove failed to give Christine Grahame the answers she was looking for when asked about a level playing field for Scottish and Northern Irish firms, with the latter, but not the former, able to trade tariff-free with the EU. (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)Michael Gove failed to give Christine Grahame the answers she was looking for when asked about a level playing field for Scottish and Northern Irish firms, with the latter, but not the former, able to trade tariff-free with the EU. (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Michael Gove failed to give Christine Grahame the answers she was looking for when asked about a level playing field for Scottish and Northern Irish firms, with the latter, but not the former, able to trade tariff-free with the EU. (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

There never was a Boris “oven-ready” deal so we are left with no-deal or a bad deal. Northern Ireland of course has, to put it in the words of Michael Gove (Boris’s Brexit shield), the “best of both worlds”.

In case you missed it, there will be no tariffs on trade between Northern Ireland and Eire, an EU country, so no tariffs between Northern Ireland and the EU.

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How do I know? Well straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak and, by the way, if you transport horses or sheep from Scotland to the EU or via Northern Ireland you’ll pay, yes you’ve guessed it, a tariff.

For a Northern Ireland horse or sheep, it’s easy-peasy because to all intents and purposes you’re still in the EU as long as you sell it through Eire.

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Why does this rigmarole matter? Simples. It will make tariffed Scots lamb very expensive and, as we export 98 per cent of Scots lamb to the EU, this is serious stuff.

I asked Michael Gove if he thought there was a level-playing field between Scotland and Northern Ireland but he didn’t answer the question because, of course, he couldn’t.

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I asked what was to stop Scottish businesses, upping sticks and setting up in NI and being tariff free? More anticipated waffle but I’ll put money on it that it’s a real possibility.

Speaking of sheep, that’s a segue by the way, reminds me of all those lovely Christmas carols like While Humble Shepherds etc. I’ve been practising these when I get the chance on my keyboard especially my favourite, In The Bleak Mid-Winter.

Another segue coming, because after hearing the bleak Covid stats for Edinburgh and Midlothian, I am reconsidering my Christmas plans what with these scary increases: Edinburgh cases up 40 per cent from 70 cases per 100,000 to 100 per 100,000 and Midlothian even worse up from 88 per 100,000 to 147 per 100,000, not far short of doubling.

No wonder Richard Leonard (who he? Leader of Scottish Labour), who lambasted the First Minster for keeping Edinburgh and Midlothian in level three, said not a cheep about it this week.

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Did he really think the FM would keep areas in these tough Covid security regimes just for the fun of it? This week he asked about the vaccine roll-out and changing the priorities.

All good and well, but did he not know, as even I do, that the priorities list has been drawn up and agreed across the four nations by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation? If nations of the UK decided different priorities, folk might traipse across borders perhaps to join a better queue.

My goodness he’d be the first to complain about that. So, what am I doing for Christmas? I had intended to spend the day with my extended family “bubble”, but I am reviewing those plans just as I think the First Minister may be reviewing that five-day Covid Christmas “break”. Perhaps not cancel Christmas but haud back a bit if we can.

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

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