South Lanarkshire MSP has called on the UK government to extend the Brexit negotiation deadline to avoid further economic damage on the back of the coronavirus crisis, and to ensure that all efforts are being directed towards tackling the pandemic.
The UK has formally left the European Union but is currently in a “transition period.” This means it is following EU rules and therefore has full access to the European market – which will be vital for the economy when the coronavirus crisis eases.
A two-year extension to this transition period is on offer but the Tory government at Westminster is instead pressing on with complex negotiations, at the height of the crisis, which will mean the UK leaving with either no trade deal in place or a very limited deal at the end of this year.
According to a report by the Chief Economist, the economic impact of the efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic could see GDP fall by around a third.
If the UK government continues to pursue its Brexit plans, Scotland's economy faces further economic damage - a loss, compared with EU membership, of up to £12.7 billion – the equivalent of £2,300 for every person in Scotland by 2030.
SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said:
"For the Tory government to pursue its plans to impose a hard Brexit on the country, while we are facing a global health emergency, is reckless in the extreme.
“South Lanarkshire voted to remain in the EU – just like every local authority in Scotland – and it's clear that businesses here simply do not have the capacity to prepare for Brexit when they are fighting to survive the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
"People and businesses in South Lanarkshire will be understandably concerned about this, so it's imperative that the UK government does the responsible thing and requests an extension to the transition period to avoid even more economic and social damage.
“There is still time for the UK government to change course, listen to the public, and ensure that every effort is put to tackling the Coronavirus pandemic."