Prime Minister in Scotland
May pledges ‘greater opportunity’ as FM warns of chaos
Theresa May: insists her deal is the best on offer
Prime Minister Theresa May heads to Scotland today where she will face claims that her Brexit deal will cause economic chaos.
Mrs May is touring Britain to promote her agreement with the EU two weeks ahead of a crucial vote in the Commons.
Her visit north of the border coincides with a report from the Treasury that says the UK will be poorer economically under any form of Brexit, compared with staying in the EU.
Official figures say the UK economy could be up to 3.9% smaller after 15 years under the PM’s Brexit plan, compared with staying in the EU. But a no-deal Brexit could deliver a 9.3% hit, the new estimates say.
This follows warnings from three economics bodies yesterday that GDP could shrink by 5.5% over a decade.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday added that major foreign investment in the country is drying up and that leaving the EU will cost Scots £1,600-per-head.
Ms Sturgeon described the plan as the “worst of all possible worlds” and repeated calls for the deal to be rejected as the Scottish Government published a damning report on Mrs May’s plan.
The First Minister accused Mrs May of governing by threat and said: “No Scottish Government with the interests of this and future generations at heart could possibly accept the deal on offer.
“That deal will take Scotland out of the European Union against our will, it would remove Scotland from a European market of 500 million – around eight times the size of the UK market. It would also take us out of the customs union and possibly deprive us of the benefits of EU trade deals with more than 40 other countries.
“In short, as the analysis demonstrates, this deal will make Scotland and indeed the whole of the United Kingdom poorer.”
Mrs May kicked off her tour with visits to Wales and Northern Ireland where she insisted the deal protected the “vital interests” of the whole of the UK when visiting Wales and Northern Ireland. She denied claims from DUP leader Arlene Foster that she had “given up” on negotiations before agreeing the Brexit deal.
During a visit to a factory near Glasgow, Mrs May will say that she believes her deal provides an “unprecedented economic relationship that no other major economy has” and certainty for employers and their staff.
“We will be free to strike our own trade deals around the world, providing even greater opportunity to Scottish exporters,” she will say.
She will also say that moving away from the EU’s common fisheries policy (CFP) “which has so tragically failed Scotland’s coastal communities” will leave the UK “free to decide for ourselves who we allow to fish in our waters”.
The First Minister indicated she was ready to support a so-called “Norway plus” deal, which would see the UK remain in the EU single market and customs union, as well as maintaining freedom of movement. It has been proposed by former Tory minister Nick Boles, and appears to be gaining support on the Westminster backbenches.
Britain’s richest man backs deal
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who founded chemicals company Ineos, is backing Theresa May’s deal, claiming it returns Britain to the Common Market it voted to join in the 1970s.
The firm’s director of corporate affairs, Tom Crotty, said: “We’ve had time over the last week to examine the deal, to examine the withdrawal agreement and the political agreement and we actually believe that it will be the right thing for the country.
“We think it is time for the politics to stop and the country to come to the fore.”
“We don’t believe so. Jim’s position has been very clear from the start. He has never been a supporter of the European Union.
“He has always been a supporter of the common market and we believe this deal, particularly the political agreement… will move us closer to a common market which I think most people felt we could join back in the 1970s.”
If there is a no-deal exit, Mr Crotty said Ineos would face tariffs which, while not ideal, the company could price into its future business plans.