Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland must stay in EU single market if Northern Ireland does

Written by Kate Shannon and Agnes Chambre on 5 December 2017 in News

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there is "no good practical reason" why Scotland cannot stay in the EU single market

Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May: Picture credit - First Minister's Office

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there is "no good practical reason" why Scotland cannot stay in the EU single market if a special deal is done to avoid a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

It has been suggested that the UK might be prepared to accept that Northern Ireland effectively remain in the EU single market after Brexit.

However, talks between UK and EU leaders have not yet resulted in an agreement.

Theresa May said "differences" remained between the two sides but was "confident" a deal could be struck.

Sturgeon said: “Despite the fact that no deal on the Irish border issue has been reached and while full details of any such deal are still to become clear, I welcome the fact that there now appears to be the outline of an agreement which would ensure that there is no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland.

“The potential for a hard border has been one of the most concerning aspects of Brexit, and the UK Government’s position to date on protecting the terms of the Good Friday Agreement has left much to be desired.

“While I welcome the proposed commitment for Ireland and Northern Ireland – and while the particular circumstances in Scotland are distinct and separate from those in Ireland – [these] developments show very clearly that if one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with the EU and effectively stay in the single market, there is no good practical reason why others cannot do the same.

“Indeed, any special status for Northern Ireland would make a similar solution for Scotland even more vital. For Scotland to find itself outside the single market, while Northern Ireland effectively stays in would place us at a double disadvantage when it comes to jobs and investment.

“While the simplest answer to the Brexit problem is for the whole UK to stay in the single market, the Scottish Government has already put forward very detailed compromise proposals for how Scotland’s place in the single market could be maintained if the rest of the UK insists on leaving – proposals which were previously rejected by the UK Government as unworkable.  Indeed, if Northern Ireland is effectively kept in the single market it makes it all the more vital for Scotland’s national and economic interests that we are too.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan also seized on the reports, saying the move would have "huge ramifications" for London.

The Prime Minister met with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday in a bid to thrash out the small print of an agreement.

A draft text of an agreement seen by RTE says: "In the absence of agreed solutions the UK will ensure that there continues to be no divergence from those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support North South cooperation and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement."

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