MSPs up in arms over Brexit analysis viewings

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MSPs have accused the UK Government of treating the Scottish Parliament with “contempt” over arrangements to view Brexit analysis.

Leaks from the Department for Exiting the EU (Dexeu) papers indicate Scottish economic growth would be cut under all three scenarios modelled.

The leaks have emerged despite MPs reading the documents under controlled conditions.

Now, MSPs have criticised arrangements for them to view the papers.

Junior Brexit Minister Robin Walker has written to Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh to confirm a confidential reading room at the Scotland Office in Edinburgh has been set up for viewings.

The letter states MSPs can make an appointment to see the documents between 10am and 5pm on Thursday and Friday with no slots available from 1pm to 2pm.

Joan McAlpine, convener of Holyrood’s Europe Committee, tweeted that she was “incredulous and angry” at the arrangements.

She criticised the viewings being held on Thursday during a sitting of the Scottish Parliament or on Friday when MSPs are generally in their constituencies.

She said the move continues the “total contempt for the Scottish Parliament by Dexeu and Brexit Secretary David Davis”.

Fellow committee member Ross Greer said the arrangements were “beyond insulting”.

Mr Greer, the Scottish Greens’ external affairs spokesman, said: “The Tories’ contempt for Scotland knows no bounds.

“They’ve chosen to make this information available to MSPs for just 12 hours over two days with no prior notice – two days in which we have committees, debates and constituency business.

“Given the massive economic damage this analysis predicts, it’s no surprise they’re making it as difficult as possible for us to know any more than what has already been leaked.

“It’s like the planning application from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – in the cellar, with no lights or stairs and at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused toilet behind a sign saying Beware Of The Leopard. Except this isn’t fiction.”

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay said: “This is an absolute nonsense, and takes no consideration of MSPs who have constituencies far from Edinburgh – or indeed the fact that Holyrood is sitting at those times on a Thursday.

“This is the shambolic Tory approach to Brexit summed up.”

Leaks from the documents indicate leaving the EU without a trade deal would cut Scottish economic growth by 9%.

Under a UK free trade deal it would be 6% lower and it would drop by 2.5% if the UK remains in the single market, which Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out.

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