Nicola Sturgeon ‘deeply concerned’ at lack of clarity on Brexit

10 December 2020, 15:35

Nicola Sturgeon was speaking at First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament.
Nicola Sturgeon was speaking at First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire/PA Images

By Joe Cook

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she is “deeply and increasingly” concerned about a "lack of clarity" on Brexit arrangements.

Responding to questions at the Scottish Parliament, the first minister said any deal agreed at this point will be “bare bones” and damage the Scottish economy.

With the EU ramping up contingency planning for a no deal Brexit, Ms Sturgeon added: “It is absolutely shameful that after all of the commitments, all of the promises, all of the glib assurances that we have heard from Boris Johnson, we do stand so close to that cliff edge.”

“Let’s hope the whole of the UK doesn’t go over it in the next few weeks, but I don’t think anybody watching the events of the last few weeks and seeing some of the images last night could have any real confidence in the UK government at this time.”

The comments come after Boris Johnson’s last-ditch Brexit trade deal dinner talks in Brussels, on Wednesday evening, ended with an announcement that “very large gaps remain”.

A “firm decision” is set to be made on Sunday over “the future of the talks”, a No10 source said.

With just 21 days until the end of the transition period, the European Commission have begun setting out contingency measures aimed at coping with the disruption if no trade deal can be agreed.

The measures would ensure basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK - and allow for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access.

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However, on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said: “Nobody should be under any illusion as to how damaging the end of the transition period is going to be whatever the circumstances but how particularly damaging it's going to be if there is no deal agreed between the UK and the European Union."

Her comments came in response to a question from Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, who asked what assurances the first minister could give that there would not be shortages of drugs and PPE.

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Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament: "I am deeply and increasingly concerned at the lack of clarity about the arrangements that will apply at the end of the Brexit transition period in just a matter of weeks' time.

"We are almost exactly a year on since the general election when the Prime Minister said his deal was oven-ready.

"And here we are, we don't even know if there's going to be a deal, and if there is a deal it will be bare bones and minimalist and will do real damage to the Scottish economy and to our society."

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First Minister said she could not give an "absolute assurance" that a no-deal Brexit will not have an impact on the health service.

She added: "What I can give an assurance of is that the Scottish Government is doing everything within our powers to minimise and mitigate against that impact."