The SNP’s priority is to secure Scotland’s membership of the Single Market – a market of 500 million people which is 8 times bigger than the UK market. I believe that staying in the Single Market is important for Scotland, our businesses, workers and consumers. A hard Tory Brexit, where Scotland could leave the Single Market, could cost up to 80,000 Scottish jobs and cost Scotland’s economy up to £11 billion a year by 2030.
We are concerned that if the UK, and Scotland, end up outside of the Single Market then we will be negotiating trade deals with countries around the world from a weaker position. As part of the EU, we negotiate trade deals with other countries with one voice for the 28 EU countries. This makes it more likely that we will be able to negotiate trade deals that work for us. But as one country of 60 million, we will be negotiating a trade deal with the US which is a country which is over five times bigger than us.
We are very concerned that this might mean we are less able to resist unfavourable aspects of a trade deal with the US, such as opening the UK to genetically modified food, and beef with lower standards that would undercut our own farmers. The EU Single Market encourages high safety rules and standards that ensure that all the food that is produced and imported into Europe is properly labelled and safe to be consumed. The high consumer protection we enjoy inside the Single Market is one of the many reasons why my SNP colleagues and I campaigned to remain in the EU.
You may be aware that the SNP Scottish Government published the paper Scotland’s Place in Europe, where we outline what the options are for Scotland to remain in the Single Market, even if the rest of the UK leaves. The ball is now in the UK Government’s court to consider these sensible compromise proposals and to act to keep Scotland in the Single Market.