Plan 'would lead to hard border'

Tories say Norway-style EU deal ‘dishonest’

Murdo FraserScottish Conservatives have warned that a Norway-style deal with the EU would lead to a hard border between Scotland and England.

They said it would also leave the country subject to EU regulations over which it had no influence.

Opposition concerns emerged after it was revealed Scottish government is looking for Scotland to join the European Economic Area (EEA).

This would give Scotland continued access to the EU’s single market. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have this arrangement and in exchange for accepting free movement of labour they make a payment to the EU.

However, the EEA can set tariffs separate to the EU which may add a layer of bureaucracy.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “This is dishonest spin from the SNP.

“They know full well the EU would not allow Scotland to have a separate deal in the first place when the precedent that would set would go directly against the interests of some member states.

“It’s also important to spell out the consequences of this idea.

“If the SNP’s plan is to back a ‘Norway-style’ deal for Scotland, separate to the rest of the UK, that would erect a hard border between us and England, our largest market and nearest neighbour.

“And, as legal experts have made clear, it would also mean having no say whatsoever in the EU regulations which would still apply to us.

“One of Nicola Sturgeon’s grandly-titled ‘five tests’ was to ensure Scotland had a say in shaping the single market, not just being subject to its rules. So this plan would not just be bad for Scotland, it would even break her own test.

“We will solve none of the questions thrown up by Brexit by cutting ourselves off from our nearest market, which is four times as important to us as the European market.

“The bottom line is that Scotland’s interests are best served by being part of one United Kingdom negotiation – so that we get the best deal for all of us.

“That’s all the more necessary given that the European institutions want to negotiate with one United Kingdom.

“The Scottish Conservatives are therefore committed to doing all we can to ensure the Scottish Government, and all Scotland’s key sectors, play an integral role in that UK wide process.”

The Law Society of Scotland has also warned that membership of the EEA would mean still being subject to EU regulations – but without any “direct influence” over how they were set.

The Scottish Government last night called for Scotland’s place in the single market to be “fully protected”.

However, after a chamber debate on the issue, Labour abstained and Tories and Lib Dems voted against the SNP motion. The two largest parties said they could not support the government without details on how its plans would work.

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