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Brexit in brief

Henry Anderson

In week when the Scottish and UK parliaments returned from their summer recesses, the Brexit saga rumbled on as key figures appeared before committees in Holyrood and Westminster. The key developments:

  • I’ll take the Chequers, please: Like Lazarus, the Chequers agreement has risen from the dead. Or, at least, from being dead to “not workable”, which is still an improvement. Labour MP Stephen Kinnock claimed Michael Barnier had branded the proposals “dead in the water” but a Commons transcript revealed the EU Chief Negotiator had merely said he “did not just reject the White Paper outright”. Instead Michel Barnier saw two “major problems” with the UK’s position, claiming it would “undermine” the EU’s customs union and having a common rulebook for goods but not services would “split up the four freedoms of the single market”.
  • Trading blows: Wednesday’s meeting of the Finance & Constitution Committee was a helpful indication of just how far apart both governments stand on Brexit. MSPs first questioned the UK Government’s Minister for Trade Policy, George Hollingbery, and then the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Relations, Mike Russell. The two disagreed on most of the main issues relating to trade and Brexit, offering opposing views on formal involvement for the Scottish Government in trade talks, Geographical Indications for food and drink, and whether Brexit would open the NHS to privatisation.
  • Poll position: Polling commissioned by the anti-Brexit ‘Best For Britain’ campaign suggested Nicola Sturgeon’s relentless focus on Brexit might be paying off. It found most Scots would vote for independence after the UK leaves the EU. It showed 47% would vote in favour of independence, with 43% against and 10% unsure. However, the poll also found that if Brexit were cancelled the figures would reverse, with 47% against independence and 43% in favour. The poll came as the fourth-biggest trade union in the UK, the GMB, backed a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
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