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Scottish Government bids for additional £52m for no-deal Brexit preparations

Deputy First Minister John Swinney delivered the plans to Scottish Parliament. Image credit: Parliament TV

Scottish Government bids for additional £52m for no-deal Brexit preparations

The Scottish Government has asked the UK Government for an additional £52m to help navigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit and announced plans to repurpose the old port at Stranraer to support increased traffic flows.

The Scottish Government’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit were outlined in a report delivered to Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

The report detailed steps taken to protect food and medicine supplies, support businesses and safeguard vulnerable citizens, with specific initiatives including creating a Scottish Medicines Shortage Response Group and a commitment to create a £7m ‘Poverty Mitigation Fund’.

The Scottish Government has also made plans to prepare the old port in Stranraer to be used to hold up to 300 HGVs if traffic flows between Northern Ireland and Scotland increase, while farmers and crofters are receiving 95 per cent of their Common Agricultural payments early “to shield them from the immediate effects of a no-deal.

The document states of the £98.25m already received from the UK Government for “EU exit consequential”, the Scottish Government has spent or committed £98.7m and will receive a £40m share of funding announced by the UK Government on 1 August.

It is bidding for “a further £52m”, the report states, “which is the minimum required for preparation activity before 31 October”. The request includes funding to support: “the disproportionate effect of ‘no deal’ on rural communities including ensuring medical support reaches these areas; increased demand on Marine Scotland compliance activities around Scotland’s coastline; additional communications to EU citizens living in Scotland; and increased demands on Police Scotland.”

Without further funding, the report said the Scottish Government would be “faced with difficult decisions on the allocation of limited resources we do have at our disposal”.

“As a responsible government we will direct funding to the priorities most in need. However, to undertake the full range of actions set out in this plan would require significant savings and reprioritisation in 2019-20 and beyond,” the report said.

“The 2019-20 budget was prepared on the assumption of the UK leaving the EU with a deal, while the government does not propose to rebase budget allocations at this stage in the financial year, some reprioritisation within existing resources will be necessary as and when decisions are necessary to activate individual elements of this plan 51.

“The simplest way to avoid these difficult choices would be for the UK Government to take No Deal off the table immediately/remain within the EU.”

The report said preparations were made “unnecessarily difficult” by a lack of engagement and information from the UK Government, and the Scottish Government had only been invited to eight out of more than 50 meetings of the UK Government’s EU Exit Operations committee.

Delivering the report to parliament on Tuesday afternoon, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “no amount of preparation that could ever make us entirely ready for the needless and significant impact of a ‘no deal’.

“There is no doubt that a ‘no deal’ outcome would have profound consequences for jobs, investment and living standards across Scotland. To even countenance ‘no deal’ is illogical and economically illiterate. The UK Government should do the responsible thing and rule it out now.”

Read the most recent article written by Emily Woods - Committee calls for greater engagement on FGM bill

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