Mike Russell: Clear benefits to giving Scotland place in post-Brexit trade talks

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Giving the Scottish Government a guaranteed role in the development of future trade deals would have “clear benefits” for both businesses and the public sector, Holyrood’s Constitutional Relations Secretary said.

Mike Russell spoke ahead of a new paper being published by Scottish ministers, setting out a series of proposals on how to protect the country’s interests in post-Brexit trade deals.

It will argue an urgent overhaul is needed of the UK’s current arrangements for developing these international agreements.

And the paper will make the case for giving the both government in Edinburgh and the Scottish Parliament a guaranteed role in all stages of any future trade deals, from their formulation right through to their implementation.

Doing this could protect the NHS in Scotland from the advancement of the private sector, Mr Russell argued, as well as benefiting businesses and consumers

The Constitutional Relations Secretary also stressed the need for politicians north of the border to “do everything we can to protect Scotland’s interests”.

The new paper, titled Scotland’s Role in the Development of Future UK Trade Arrangements, is being published on Thursday in a bid to encourage wider discussion about what role ministers and Holyrood could have in any post-Brexit deals.

Mr Russell said: “The Scottish Government has consistently argued that the best future for Scotland and the UK is to remain in the EU, or at the least in the Single Market and Customs Union.

“But we must do everything we can to protect Scotland’s interests in future trade deals in all possible Brexit outcomes.

“The discussion paper makes a strong case for the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament having a guaranteed role in the development of trade arrangements and ensuring that the views of the Scottish Parliament are respected.

“This would bring clear benefits for Scottish producers, exporters and consumers – not least protecting Scotland’s NHS from being opened up to private competition, or opening up our markets to chlorinated chicken or hormone-injected beef.”

A spokesman for the Department for International Trade (DIT) said: “The people of Scotland, and the whole UK, will have far more involvement in our future UK trade agreements than current EU agreements.

“Indeed, the Trade Policy Minister is visiting Scotland next week to host a consultation event with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry on future free trade agreements.

“We are committed to working with the devolved administrations on an approach to trade negotiations that delivers the best for the UK as a whole.

“I welcome the opportunity to positively engage with businesses, communities and civil society across the entire country as we work together to develop our independent trade policy for the first time in 40 years.”

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