Thursday 22 August 2019

Brexit could leave England as 'economic basket case' - MP warns

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Reuters

Katrine Bussey

It is in Scotland's interests to prevent Brexit turning England into an "economic basket case", SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry has insisted.

The MP argued even if Scotland were to be independent it would be better for the country to "keep England as close as possible to the single market and customs union as possible".

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has so far refused to consider either of these options as she tries to win support for her Brexit deal at Westminster.

Ms Cherry said: "Despite the fact that I think Brexit is a disaster for the United Kingdom, I think it is in the interests of Scotland and the SNP to keep England as close as possible to the single market and customs union as possible.

"It will make it easier for us to be independent if England is in the same overall union and market for us."

She told a fringe event at the SNP conference in Edinburgh: "Some people say to me: 'Why are you trying to save England, just leave England in its own mess?'

"That's not my attitude to any of the other nations of Europe, I really believe in the European project and I recognise England and Scotland will always have a special relationship.

"At the most base level its not in our interests for England to be an economic basket case and on a more principled level, who would want their nearest neighbour to be an economic basket case?"

She spoke out after Alyn Smith, the lead SNP candidate for next month's European elections, said the ballot would definitely be going ahead.

He argued his party could "really make a mark for Scotland" in the May 23 European elections.

The UK would not be required to take part in the European election if Mrs May can get her Brexit deal through the Commons before polling day.

On the issue of whether the vote will take place, Mr Smith said: "If you asked me about it two weeks ago, I was still thinking that Mr Corbyn, who is a Brexiter, and Mrs May, who is a born again Leaver, would have come up with some form of words to fudge it and get it over the line and the Withdrawal Agreement would have been nodded through at Westminster, and then it would have fallen apart.

"But I think Mr Corbyn has now made a political calculation that says the Tories are going to have such a bad time in these elections that Labour might as well let the elections happen.

"So these elections are going to go forward."

PA Media

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