Brexit meeting in Cardiff

Mackay says Truss ‘fails’ devolved nations in Brexit talks

Derek Mackay: ‘deeply concerned about lack of detail (pic: Terry Murden)


Scotland’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay today accused Treasury Minister Liz Truss of failing to give guarantees on future funding of the devolved nations after Britain leaves the EU.

Mr Mackay met Ms Truss along with Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans for crunch talks in Cardiff, but the Chief Secretary to the Treasury was unable to give clarity on post Brexit EU funding and public sector pensions.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Mackay said: “I raised a number of issues with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, including urging her to rule out a no-deal Brexit, giving me a cast iron guarantee that all lost EU funding would be replaced in full and meeting all costs associated with the UK Government’s changes to public sector pensions. She could do none of these.

“With just weeks to go until the planned EU Exit day, the Scottish Government remains deeply concerned about the lack of detail regarding replacement arrangements for EU funding streams, not to mention the severe impact a no-deal could have on our economy and labour market.

“As a responsible government, we will continue to intensify our work to prepare for all Brexit outcomes as best we can and press the UK Government to rule out no-deal Brexit and extend the Article 50 process.”

Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “I was hoping for much greater clarity on what are becoming very important and pressing issues the closer we get to EU Exit day, but disappointingly I am leaving the meeting no more reassured.

“There seems to be a real lack of clarity across the UK Government on what is happening with Brexit but with the very real prospect of a no-deal, this is a huge concern to Welsh Government.

“Along with my Scottish counterpart I pressed the Chief Secretary for clarity on a number of financial issues relating to the impact of Brexit, including the possibility of an emergency budget. The message was clear, a full fiscal event is not on the agenda, adding to the uncertainties we are facing as we prepare to exit.

“The Welsh Government will continue to make the case for Wales to ensure that the interests of Wales are very much at the forefront of discussions.”

Ahead of the meeting Mr Mackay had described the meeting as an opportunity for the UK Government to provide much needed clarity around future funding as well as details on what support will be made available to help protect Scotland’s economy against the consequences of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

“Funding from the EU supports jobs in Scotland, from major infrastructure projects to sustaining rural communities and delivering research funding for our world-class universities.

“That is why the Scottish Government is determined to defend its hard-won fiscal responsibility and maintain the benefits that EU funding has provided to many sectors and individuals in Scotland,” he said.

“With just weeks to go until the planned EU exit day, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of detail regarding replacement arrangements for EU funding streams given their importance to individuals, businesses and communities across Scotland.

Mr Mackay noted that the Scottish Government’s chief economist Gary Gillespie warned in his State of the Economy report published this week that Brexit uncertainty is already impacting key economic indicators and a no-deal Brexit would lead to a “major dislocation” to the Scottish economy.

“The UK Government must immediately rule out the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and extend the Article 50 process,” said Mr Mackay. “However, as a responsible government we will also continue – and indeed intensify – our work to prepare for all outcomes as best we can.

Colin BorlandColin Borland, director of devolved nations for the Federation of Small Businesses (pictured), said: “Avoiding a no-deal Brexit at the end of March is the highest priority for smaller businesses.

“Elected members at every level need to push hard to avoid this outcome. On the other hand, at FSB we would encourage local businesses from Aberystwyth to Aberdeen to check out official sources of advice to ensure they’re as prepared as they can be for what could be an abrupt change in trading conditions.

“It is especially important for Welsh and Scottish local economies that we get both replacement arrangements for EU funding streams and our post-Brexit immigration system absolutely right and that neither nation is disadvantaged as a result of Brexit. Those in business expect Ministers based in Edinburgh, Cardiff and London to be able to work constructively together to find solutions that deliver for everyone.”

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