The Scottish Government’s paper setting out possible separate treatment for Scotland following Brexit "deserves proper consideration and analysis", according to the Law Society of Scotland.
Yesterday's paper Scotland's Place in Europe (click here for report) called for the UK to remain in the European single market following Brexit, but argued that with UK Government co-operation Scotland could retain such participation even if the rest of the UK withdrew.
While the Prime Minister's immediate response was that her Government would be negotiating a UK approach, and a UK relationship with the EU, the Society's President Eilidh Wiseman said:
“With all the uncertainty that followed the referendum result, the Scottish Government is to be commended for producing a thorough set of options which deserves proper consideration and analysis. Whatever the advantages or disadvantages of the various options, the paper provides an important contribution to the debate on Scotland’s future relationship with our European neighbours.
“The Scottish Government is also right to use this paper to set out how further devolution to the Scottish Parliament may be required. There are particular issues about our legal system and constitutional arrangements which will need careful consideration once EU powers are repatriated. It is clear the Scottish Parliament may need increased devolved powers affecting justice and home affairs, environment law, farming and research.
“It is vital for the UK Government to take the views of all devolved administrations into account. Last summer, the Prime Minister said she was committed to ensuring Scotland is fully engaged in UK Government discussions on its future relationship with the EU. We warmly welcomed that approach and the Scottish Government’s new paper certainly provides a basis for what we hope will be a thorough and constructive dialogue between the two administrations.”
The November Journal carried an article by former Scottish Government adviser Professor Jim Gallagher explaining, among other points, how separate immigration arrangements could be made to work in different parts of the United Kingdom – a key component of differing access to the single market.
For the Faculty of Advocates, James Mure QC, convener of the Faculty's’ International Committee, commented more coolly: “The Faculty notes with interest today’s detailed paper from the Scottish Government outlining its proposals for Scotland’s place in Europe. The paper calls for a fundamental review of the devolution settlement; seeks to maintain free trade and free movement within the single market; and looks for clarity on transitional arrangements. As the First Minister says, much will depend on all parties finding the political will to create practical solutions for Scotland. The Faculty and its members will be following developments closely, and will continue to contribute their expertise to the important debate about Scotland’s place in the UK and in Europe.”
Opposition political leaders accused the First Minister of using the issue of the single market in order to manoeuvre towards a second referendum.