Scotland's place in Europe - so long as it has no place in the UK

Scotland's place in Europe - so long as it has no place in the UK

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Wednesday 17, January, 2018

I'VE READ THROUGH the Scottish Government report on Brexit. The latest one that is, imaginatively titled Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, jobs and investment.

The first thing that jumps out is how the SNP leadership really likes the Single Market and Customs Union though never seems able to distinguish between them. There is currently a country that is a member of both without being an EU member. Indeed there is no setup that allows the EU and an independent country to co-administer a customs union. None.

How that squares with the UK or Scotland staying in the EUCU is unclear.

The first 11 pages out of about 60 is gibberish. Really. There is nothing of substance in this preamble except that regarding talks between Westminster and the devolved institutions

"Discussions about how that will take place are now underway, though have yet to reach any meaningful conclusion."


Page 12 asserts that out of roughly £146 billion pounds of exports we will lose up to £9 billion on customs checks, assuming we don't impose any ourselves. Still, £9 billion on custom checks? I assume they mean tariffs. Never mind. 

Page 13 goes on about pre-referendum HM Treasury estimates of Brexit impacts, which is perhaps the only time a government that splits hairs on GERS figures will ever believe HMT. No one else did.

Page 14 waffles on about four freedoms in the EU yet fails to show Scottish growth in trade has flat-lined with the EU and grown markedly with the rest of the UK over the last 15 years. So says the ScotGov website.

Pages 15-17 says the EU-Canadian deal does not eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade, despite Canada and the EU stating it does, and that the Single Market has no barriers to services; a statement neither true nor referenced. While passporting rights will be lost post Brexit the report fails to mention equivalence and fails to adjust for Scotland leaving the UK which presumably by leaving its Single Market and Customs regime will... oh it's the SNP. They never link the two do they? We are told planes will fall out of the sky once we leave the EU's aviation safety agency but there is no mention of agreements with other countries that ensure current cooperation, i.e. Canada.

Page 18-20 shows that five times as much value added by manufacture happens within the UK than between the UK and the EU. Not sure how that helps them but hey ho. FDI and the EU are mentioned several times without any tangible link between the two except by one tenuous study. Analysis of that study shows huge swings in UK FDI linked to specific industries and to the economic cycle.

Apparently this chart explains why the EU is so good for UK FDI, I am not so sure however as FDI continues to grow despite our Brexit vote...

Page 21 is a side of gibberish and pages 22-26 cite the Fraser of Allander Institute's assessment of leaving the EU that has already been well covered as being a one-way analysis as it cannot model any benefits from new arrangements, unknown as they are.

Pages 27-28 state speculative benefits of future Single Market reforms from the European Parliament and Scotgov but none are independently reported.

Pages 29-30 tell us the digital single market is the new secret oilfield and energy markets are vital to Scotland's renewable sector despite all wind power is currently exported to England and we are a net importer of gas and electricity. 

Thirty pages is quite enough for now but it does inspire confidence in the ability of the researchers. To think we could have been independent by now... in or out of the UK single market one can only speculate...

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