Scottish ministers clash on impact of no-deal Brexit tariffs

Scottish ministers clash on impact of no-deal Brexit tariffs

Scottish ministers have clashed on the impact of tariffs on goods introduced in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It comes after the UK government’s Scotland Office minister David Duguid said tariffs would “not necessarily be the end of the world”.

However, the Scottish government’s Europe Secretary Mike Russell described such a scenario as a “disaster”.

UK and EU leaders have agreed to continue Brexit talks in the hope of reaching a deal.

However the prime minister has said that a no-deal outcome is “very, very likely”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme, David Duguid said there would still be access to the EU market with no deal “on Australia terms”.

“We talk about financial tariffs, we talk about non-tariff barriers, these are all the things we’re trying to avoid with a free trade agreement.

“It doesn’t stop exports, it doesn’t stop trade. Nobody wants to have to experience tariff barriers if we don’t have to. The effect of those tariffs are overstated.”

When asked whether a no-deal Brexit could result in food shortages, as reported in the Sunday Times, Mr Duguid said there had been “scaremongering” around the issue.

He said he would “not guarantee anything hypothetical” but there “would not be the shortages reported”.

“You may not get the specific shape of pasta you like,” he added.

However, Mike Russell responded to the comments by saying any dismissal of the impact of tariffs was “nonsense”.

He said: “Tariffs on lamb, for example – a big issue in Scotland – would be 60%. That’s not currency fluctuation, that’s disaster.”

Mr Russell highlighted that the Scottish government had not been able to carry out a proposed expansion of the port at Stranraer in preparation for leaving the EU because the UK government would not agree to fund it.

He said: “All the arrangements we have made are to meet worst case scenario. The reality is we are doing everything we can to avoid disaster foisted upon us but we cannot do everything.

“There should be a pause on this.”

Asked whether the SNP would support a last-minute deal put before MPs at Westminster, Mr Russell said: “We will look at what is put in front of any parliament”.

He added: “But I think it would be pretty unlikely that they would be bringing anything which we could do anything other than say ‘this will be a disaster’. “

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