UK Government's 'recklessness' exposed with Brexit deadline just 100 days away

THE Scottish Government and the SNP in Westminster have both accused the UK Government of “recklessness” in its approach to the end of the Brexit transition period. The point at which the UK will leave the single market and the EU’s custom union rules is just 100 days away. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told the House of Commons yesterday that the Government was “absolutely determined to do everything that we can to secure a deal” that would prevent trade problems between the UK and the EU.

But a letter from the Cabinet Office told a different story, with its prediction of a “reasonable worst case scenario” that could see up to 7000 lorries stuck in queues at Dover. Written by Gove to Logistics UK, which represents the freight industry, the letter adds there would be “associated maximum delays of up to two days” for such vehicles and states that “both imports and exports could be disrupted to a similar extent”. The UK Government claims the problems could happen because the logistics industry has not prepared itself properly, while Logistics UK blames the Government for its lack of a deal.

Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Michael Russell, responding to Gove, said: “In the midst of global pandemic, it is an act of extraordinary recklessness for the UK Government to end the Brexit transition period in 100 days. The UK Government is fully prepared to add to the distress of Covid-19 with the economic damage and dislocation of Brexit. READ MORE: Brexit reckoning is coming, and a Kent border’s not the half of it

“It is lamentable that we are now having to prepare to face Brexit’s ‘reasonable worst case scenarios’ whilst we are responding to a deadly virus, and it is clear from today’s statement that Scotland and the UK as a whole are facing considerable economic disruption. “While the Scottish Government is responding to one unprecedented crisis, we are now being forced to prepare for another crisis which could have been avoided – the reckless pursuit of either a ‘no deal’ or ‘low deal’ Brexit in little over three months’ time. “As a responsible Government, we will continue to do everything we can to mitigate against the consequences of the end of the transition period, but we simply cannot avert every negative consequence of the UK Government’s policy.

“As we contemplate the damage of Brexit being willingly added to the damage and distress of the Covid-19 pandemic, fundamentally the Scottish Government view is that the best future for Scotland is to become an independent country.” SNP MP Pete Wishart stated that the UK Government’s extreme Brexit plans demonstrated beyond all doubt that decisions about Scotland’s future should be taken by the people who live in Scotland, rather than Boris Johnson. He cited a report published by the UK in a Changing Europe group which concluded that a potential no-deal outcome could lead to “risks of queues and shortages of food”, and that in the “long run Brexit is likely to be more significant than Covid-19”.

Wishart said: “At the same time as further difficult coronavirus restrictions are introduced and the economic impact of the pandemic continues to hit businesses and people’s livelihoods, it’s beyond irresponsible for Boris Johnson to ignore the warnings and instead plough ahead with his disastrous Brexit plans. “The UK Government’s own warnings of 7000-truck queues, two-day delays to export cargo, and that only 20-40% of small and medium businesses will be ready for the UK’s exit at the end of the year, makes clear that an extension to the transition period deadline is absolutely critical. “Scotland’s voice and interests have been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process.

It’s clearer than ever that the only way to protect Scotland’s economy is to become an independent country.”