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Politics / SNP government urges Westminster to delay Brexit

The UK is leaving the European Union on 31 December.

THE SCOTTISH Government has again called on their masters in Westminster to delay Brexit by asking for an extension of the current transition period for up to two years.

A new study published on Wednesday suggests the Scottish economy could lose as much as £3 billion or 1.1 per cent of GDP over two years should the UK Government refuse to extend the transition period beyond 31 December.

The UK leaves the European Union on 31 December under the current Brexit deal, but it can ask for an extension of up to two years by the end of this month.

The local fishing industry is fiercely opposed to such a move and it has previously said that they would be ready to leave the EU sooner rather than later.

Cabinet secretary for external affairs Michael Russell said on Wednesday the Brexit extension study indicated that leaving the EU on 31 December would hit Scotland’s agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing sectors especially badly.

“Given the huge economic hit caused by coronavirus it would be an act of extraordinary recklessness for the UK Government to refuse to seek an extension,” he said.

“The paper we are publishing today suggests if there is no extension, then even if a basic trade deal can be reached with the EU by December, there will be a cumulative loss over just two years of nearly £2 billion, rising to almost £3 billion if there is no deal.

“And the actual impact will be worse because the Brexit shock would come hard on the heels of coronavirus hitting businesses at their most vulnerable and giving business and government, currently rightly focussed on this pandemic, insufficient time to prepare.”

His views were echoed by Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Maree Todd, who said: “The SNP believe the best future for Scotland is as an independent member of the EU.

“But regardless of your opinion on Brexit or independence, it makes no sense to crash out of the European single market at precisely the moment we need stability.

“Businesses in the Highlands & Islands are focused on securing their future – they simply don’t have the capacity to prepare for Brexit on top of a pandemic.

“The UK government must do the sensible thing, protect jobs in the Highlands & Islands and extend the transition period.”