Russell under fire after Brexit impact papers are withheld
Brexit Minister Mike Russell has come under fire after the Scottish Government was given key papers on the impact of leaving the European Union on the “basis of secrecy”.
He was pressed on the issue as a report by an economics thinktank revealed an estimated 134,000 jobs in Scotland are supported by exports to the EU.
The research, by the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University, said this meant almost 6% of total employment in Scotland is “supported by demand currently driven by exports to the EU”.
In response, Mr Russell repeated calls for the UK Government to “change course away from a hard Brexit” and keep Britain in the European single market
“This report shows the threat Brexit poses to jobs and the risks to some of the most important sectors of our economy, further highlighting why I believe continued membership is crucial for our economic future,” he said.
The Brexit Minister, however, accused of withholding other was key documents on the impact of leaving the EU from both MSPs and the public.
The Scottish Government has confirmed it received an 850-page dossier from the UK Government on Monday, which contains details about the impact of leaving the EU on 58 different sectors of the economy.
Mr Russell confirmed to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee the document had been handed over to the Scottish Government “on the understanding that we would not publish it”.
He told MSPs: “I think in those circumstances certainly we are not going to publish it.”
But Green co-leader Patrick Harvie questioned the decision to “accept that information from the UK Government on the basis of secrecy”.
He told Mr Russell: “I am slightly disturbed by the implication of your decision to accept this information on the basis that you will withhold it from parliamentary scrutiny and from public scrutiny.”
The Brexit Minister said he wanted the information to be made public – but stressed that was a matter for the UK Government, not ministers in Holyrood.
UK Brexit Minister David Davis was forced to release the impact report to the Brexit Select Committee following a House of Commons motion. The papers have also been handed to the UK’s devolved administrations.