Speaking in a debate on Scotland’s role in the future of UK trade arrangements, Ms. McAlpine questioned the hitherto lax approach of the Tory Government to post-Brexit trade deals.
The MSP branded the UK Government as “arrogant” in its expectation that the current trade deals which the UK is party to, through the EU, would simply roll over after Britain exits the bloc.
Ms. McAlpine went on to criticise the UK Government for its dismissal of Scottish interests within UK trade deals.
In a briefing for today’s debate, the Trade Justice Coalition Scotland derided the UK Trade Bill – voted through the House of Commons in July – for containing nothing that would give the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament the right to scrutinise or amend UK trade deals.
In other words, Scotland will have no role in the ratification of such agreements. In spite of the fact that this will have a profound impact on a litany of devolved issues that are within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.
Ms. McAlpine emphasised that the interests of Scottish producers, exporters and consumers could only be adequately represented and supported when the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament could scrutinise post-Brexit UK trade arrangements.
In her speech, Ms. McAlpine said:
“Earlier this month, in response to a freedom of information request, the UK government confirmed that even at this late stage, it has no clear agreement to roll over any deals that third countries currently enjoy with the EU – and, crucially, no set date for asking these countries to do so.
“The UK Government insists that the preferential trading agreements which the EU has negotiated on our behalf with 60 other countries will still be in place after Brexit.
“That position is either extremely naïve, arrogant or deeply mendacious.
“The European Parliament offers some protection against exploitative trade deals. Without the protection of Europe who can we trust?
“That is why it is crucial that this parliament, every single member of it, gets the chance to scrutinise future trade deals.
“We are elected to protect our constituents – that includes protecting them against secret international deals which could destroy their livelihoods, their public services and even their health.”
As with so much in relation to Brexit, swathes of the British public seem beset by hindsight. It is only after the fact, that people have begun to realise that our interests were well protected as part of the European Union.
If the UK Government showed any deference towards Scotland, then it too would be championing the nation’s interests. At present, it seems that the Tories are content to gamble the future of a nation for nothing more than a petty party dispute.