Brexit: SNP 'won't support a deal' says Michael Russell
The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Mike Russell, confirmed his party would reject any trade deal as “Scotland did not vote for Brexit”. However, with negotiations between the UK and the EU on the brink, he admitted a failure for a deal to come into place could be a nightmare scenario.
UK negotiator Lord David Frost is in Brussels today as he holds last-minute negotiations with the EU’s Michel Barnier is a frantic bid to strike a trade deal.
Both sides have just days left to agree a deal if it is to have time to be ratified before the end of the transition period on December 31.
Calling for certainty and a deal to be agreed, Mr Russell warned a failure to strike a trade pact risked throwing Scotland into chaos.
He said: “I am certainly no fan of Brexit at all, but it is better to have some sort of arrangement than no sort of arrangement because with no sort of arrangement it is impossible to say what will happen next.
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“This has never happened before.”
However, despite his desire to see a deal struck, Mr Russell said it was “inconceivable” the SNP could back an agreement brokered by Boris Johnson’s negotiating team.
He said on BBC Radio Scotland this morning: “We won’t support a deal because we don’t believe that Brexit is the right thing to happen.
“I think that is entirely consistent from the very, very beginning.
“Scotland did not vote for Brexit. it would be extraordinary if we were voting to give away all the rights that we have and all the things we have enjoyed for almost 50 years.
“That would be inconceivable.”
The SNP’s decision means the Prime Minister could see any trade deal rejected in the House of Commons if Labour abstains on the vote and Mr Johnson suffers a large backbench rebellion.
The Labour Party are understood to currently be split on whether to back a deal in a Commons vote.
Sir Keir Starmer is eager to avoid being accused of still being the party of Remain and is said to be pushing for his MPs to back any deal.
But members of his Cabinet are less convinced and want the party to abstain.
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Mr Johnson has already been warned from his backbenchers that he will face revolt if he agrees to a sell-out Brexit deal.
A source close to the European Research Group (ERG), a group of eurosceptic Tory MPs, confirmed their members would not shy away from voting down a deal.
The source told The Telegraph: “For Brexiteers, the overwhelmingly important issue is UK sovereignty.
“If that is not preserved in the final agreement, I have no doubt we will vote against the treaty in whatever vote is called.”
Last week the Prime Minister was left rattled when he suffered his biggest backbench rebellion since last year’s election.
In a vote on his coronavirus tier system for England, 71 Conservative MPs ignored Mr Johnson’s orders to support the measures.
Mr Johnson was left pleading and begging with his MPs to back the plan but failed to win over the rebels.
If a similar revolt occurred on an EU trade deal, it would wipe out the Prime Minister’s majority and almost certainly see him defeated in the Commons.
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