Brexit: Anger over '˜lack of clarity' on job losses and security

Fears over the impact of Brexit on policing, jobs and the economy in Scotland are growing 'increasingly urgent' with just 200 days until the UK's departure from the European Union.

Monday, 10th September 2018, 3:34 pm
Updated Monday, 10th September 2018, 3:35 pm

The lack of clarity over the kind of deal the UK will get from Brussels has been branded “unacceptable” by the Scottish Government as Conservative Party infighting intensifies.

New analysis shows that tens of thousands of Scottish jobs will be in jeopardy, regardless of the kind of arrangement which is secured next March. The impact on financial services – a bulwark of Edinburgh’s economy – could also be devastating, industry leaders have warned.

They said the UK government’s handling of negotiations with Europe means Britain risks ending up with a “disastrous no-deal Brexit”.

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Humza Yousaf branded the lack of clarity 'unacceptable'. Picture: John Devlin
Humza Yousaf branded the lack of clarity 'unacceptable'. Picture: John Devlin

The Tories were engulfed in a fresh infighting row yesterday after former foreign secretary Boris Johnson warned that the Prime Minister’s Chequer’s Deal – the UK’s favoured Brexit arrangement – was like wearing a suicide vest with EU chiefs in control of the detonator.

Meanwhile, Holyrood Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf warned that the lack of progress on securing a deal now threatens to undermine Scotland’s distinct law and order system over future co-operation with other jurisdictions in the EU.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has been accused of being non-­commital on the issue when he appeared at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice committee last week.

Mr Yousaf said: “With 200 days to go until Brexit, the complete lack of any clarity on our future security partnership with the EU is much worse than ‘suboptimal’, as the Secretary of State put it to committee, it is unacceptable. We rely on measures like the European Arrest Warrant with which, for example, we might not have been able to bring a number of high-­profile criminals to justice.

“This government has been consistently clear on the importance of safeguarding the close co-operation which Scottish police and prosecutors enjoy with their EU counterparts.”

Since 2011, more than 760 people have been subject to proceedings in a Scottish court after being arrested on a European Arrest Warrant.

In one case, a Polish national was arrested in Poland within five hours of the issue of an arrest warrant, following a violent attack and murder in Edinburgh in January 2012.

In 2009 Marek Harcar, a Slovakian national, was jailed for the murder of Moira Jones after being held on a European Arrest Warrant.

Mr Yousaf added: “We are working with our law enforcement agencies to plan in case these co-operation arrangement fall away. With no answers to basic questions, this planning is complex and challenging.

“While I welcome that the UK government’s White Paper finally acknowledged ­Scotland’s separate judicial system, we need to know what their plans are for security 
co-operation in the event of a no-deal. There is no ­guarantee that we can rely on a ­transition period, as the ­Secretary of State seemed to suggest. The clock is ticking and this is becoming increasingly urgent.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford urged Prime Minister Theresa May to put remaining in the single market and customs union back on the table and ignore the “Brexit ultras” in her party.

He said: “While Boris Johnson might be trying to stake a claim to the Tory leadership – an unconscionable prospect – his vision for Brexit would result in significant loss to our economy, jobs thrown on the scrapheap and businesses going bust.

“What Theresa May has an opportunity to do is put remaining in the single market and customs union back up the agenda.”

New analysis by the People’s Vote campaign out today reveals that 32,000 jobs of trade union members in Scotland in both the private and public sectors, and 220,000 across the UK as a whole, are at risk under a botched Brexit.

The figures show that the industries worst affected by Brexit would be manufacturing – where 31,000 jobs are at risk, including at least 7,000 unionised jobs – administrative and support services, and professional, scientific and technical professions.

Industries in Scotland with a large amount of trade union jobs would face increased costs of £700 million due to new tariffs as a result of a botched Brexit.

Industries affected include manufacturing, which would face £40m in extra costs per year, the chemicals sector, which would face £51m in extra costs per year, and the machinery and transport industry which would face £80m in extra costs per year. Across all industries, 49 per cent of Scottish goods exports go to the EU each year.

Labour MP Stephen Doughty, a former shadow minister for industrial relations and a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said: “The myth that there can be a jobs-first Brexit is now dead. The choice for trade unionists is the fire of Theresa May’s Brexit or the frying pan of Jacob Rees Mogg’s Brexit. Both will be bad news for working families, both will mean job losses, cuts in hours worked and wages earned, and both will mean years more of damaging austerity for public services.

“Job losses and cuts would only be the start. An attack on social and environmental protections would soon follow.”

The financial services sector employs about 100,000 people across Scotland directly, and the same again indirectly and is worth about 8 per cent of the country’s GDP – there are fears it could be devastated in the event of no deal.

According to the government’s own analysis, Britons visiting the EU could face millions of pounds in credit and debit card charges, while UK immigrants living in Europe face the possibility of losing access to their pension income in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Miles Celic, chief executive at financial industry body TheCityUK, has called for urgent work to be done to protect the sector. He said: “We need to see progress on financial services in particular, the debate has been dominated by goods.

“There are at least 36 million contracts – 30 million in the EU – and we need private and public sector to come together.”

Roland Rudd, founder and chairman of public relations giant Finsbury, said: “Brexit is a complete and utter mess. The list of broken promises grows by the day and the risk of a disastrous no-deal Brexit is increasing all the time.

“We already know that the huge uncertainty created by Brexit is acting as a significant drag on the economy, and that the significant fall in the value of the pound since the referendum in 2016 has led to a real squeeze on the cost of living for people up and down the country. And that’s before we’ve even left.”

Business lobby groups have also expressed ­concern that time is running out.

Allie Renison of the Institute of Directors said: “While the government has stressed that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, they should be mindful of the fact that an 11th-hour deal increases the number of firms ­activating contingency plans earlier on.”