Mike Russell: general election result was a rejection of hard Brexit

Written by Jenni Davidson on 16 June 2017 in News

Scotland’s Brexit minister Mike Russell also parties should work together on Brexit

Mike Russell - Image credit: Holyrood

Last week’s general election result was a “rejection of the Tory plans for a hard Brexit”, Scotland’s Brexit minister Mike Russell has said.

Speaking at a lecture at Glasgow University last night, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe told listeners the SNP becoming the largest party showed support for a softer Brexit.

Russell said the Conservatives were “much weakened” by the snap election which saw them lose their majority, whereas “despite much hype” the SNP had won the majority of seats in Scotland on the basis of arguing for a choice for the Scottish people at the end of the Brexit process.

“I, and many others, interpret the election result as a rejection of the Tory plans for a hard Brexit,” he said.


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Russell stated the immediate concern must be how the Brexit negotiations are undertaken and what the desired outcome of those negotiations is.

The “blueprint” for a soft or open Brexit already existed, he said in the Scottish Government paper Scotland’s Place in Europe, which calls for membership of the single market, promotion of economic protection over controls on immigration, continuity of funding in key areas, continued close collaboration with the EU in security and research and more powers for the devolved administrations.

Russell also called for more cross-party working to achieve a desirable outcome for Brexit, revealing he has contacted other parties in Scotland with a view to discussing this, and that his party does not have the “monopoly of wisdom”.

He said: “The opportunity now exists to break the logjam in the Brexit process that has existed since before the Article 50 letter and which was made worse by the election.   

“We have made and will continue make these suggestions to the UK Government. But we do not have a monopoly of wisdom.

“So we need not just all-party discussions in London but an open, healthy and positive discussion in Scotland.  

“That is why I have this evening emailed my counterparts in the other parties in Scotland suggesting we meet, either bilaterally or multilaterally in the coming days to see if we can agree on the key issues which will produce progress on securing the least bad Brexit for Scotland and the best transition that will protect a re-entry by Scotland, should Scotland choose that route at a future date. 

“Those discussions would be good for Scotland and good for the many sectors in Scotland that are increasingly waking up to the threat of Brexit and the real damage that could be done by the process – and particularly by a hard Brexit.

“Scottish business, Scottish public services, the Scottish third sector and Scottish education – amongst others – should and do expect politicians to try and find a way through what is the most uncertain and most insecure period in our national memory. 

“I think they are right to have that expectation and none of the parties should refuse to live up to it.”

The UK Government has announced that Brexit negotiations will begin on Monday.

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