A Brexit Pathway for Scotland?

The First Minister has set out proposals intended to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe in the aftermath of Brexit – the first detailed plan published by any administration in the UK since June’s referendum.

Making clear that the proposals represent a compromise on behalf of the Scottish Government as no reference was made to independence as the way forward, Nicola Sturgeon set out a process by which Scotland could stay in the Single Market, even if the rest of the UK was to leave, and how free movement of people, services and goods would continue across the UK even with a differentiated arrangement in place for Scotland.

The paper published by the Government calls for ‘a fundamental review of the devolution settlement in the aftermath of Brexit’ – which it argues would be necessary not only to support Scotland’s membership of the single market, but also allow the Scottish Government to protect some of the social rights which come with EU citizenship.

The analysis within the paper identifies three categories of powers that could be affected by Brexit

• Powers “repatriated to the UK from the EU currently within the Scottish Parliament’s competence” – the Scottish Government makes it clear that any attempt at a “powers grab” by the UK government will be resisted.
• Powers “repatriated” to the UK not currently within the Scottish Parliament’s competence – Arguing for the devolution of these powers over, for example, employment law, the Scottish Government takes the view that extending devolution would allow action to be taken to ensure that rights currently enjoyed by people in Scotland would continue to be protected
• Further powers currently held at UK level which are necessary to “protect Scotland’s interests” – these powers include those to support the differentiated Brexit solutions for Scotland set out in the Scottish Government’s paper, including responsibility for immigration and the power to conclude some international agreements.

The Prime Minister has insisted she will look seriously at the proposals put forward by Nicola Sturgeon who said in the aftermath of today’s publication that “the UK Government response to these proposals will tell us all we need to know” about Scotland’s status as an equal partner in the UK.

Over the forthcoming period, the Scottish Government’s proposals, alongside those from the UK government when they are published, will provide the backdrop to the public debate on Brexit. Policy Scotland will be running a series of seminars and events that we hope will inform the policy debate on this vital issue.