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Brexit, Failure and IndyRef2

In his letter of 2 February to European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, regarding the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove, suggested that arrangements in place for supermarkets should be extended until 2023.

Likewise, he suggested that the temporary arrangements in place for parcel deliveries between GB and NI should also be extended.

It is also worth asking, if he is making demands on behalf of businesses in Northern Ireland, why did he not seek to respond positively to businesses in Scotland? For example when they were struggling at the England/France border.

The fundamental problem though, is that the Minister did not suggest these arrangements, along with a number of others should be re-negotiated. Rather he demanded that the temporary arrangements in place “must” be maintained for an extended period of time.

Now I have no problem with extending the transitional arrangements, but I find his lack of self-awareness – and the arrogance of the UK Government, who are in a very weak post-Brexit position – mind boggling.

In short, they campaigned for Brexit, they ignored all of the warnings and they are in absolutely no position to demand anything.

Michael Gove’s letter also, rightly said, “In addition, we should look as a matter of urgency at those autonomous processes subject to ongoing consideration in a broader UK-EU context, but where the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland may not have been fully considered. "This particularly applies to the movements of seed potatoes and other plants and plant products, as well as the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.”

And this is a very real problem, both for consumers in Northern Ireland and suppliers in GB including in Scotland.

This has led to the media in Northern Ireland, for example, reporting that: “Suttons Seeds, whose rows of seed packets have been familiar in many garden centres across Northern Ireland for decades, circulated a list to garden centres in Northern Ireland… in which it made clear the extend of its withdrawal from the Northern Ireland market.”

And they are not alone.

The question is, how did it come to this? And why were all of the warnings about the economic dangers of Brexit so comprehensively ignored?

Well, we don’t have to go back very long to see that the same Michael Gove who is now demanding changes in the NI Protocol, was still peddling the same 2016 Brexit campaign slogans only two months ago.

ITV news reported him, on 8 December 2020 still saying:

‘Northern Ireland will get the "best of both worlds" at the end of the Brexit transition period’ and that there would be, ‘unfettered access for goods that come from NI to the UK’

The same report said that ‘The agreement covers issues like border checks on animal and plant products, the supply of medicines and deliveries of chilled meats and other food products to supermarkets.’

Clearly, given the demands now being made by the UK Government, tell us that was wrong. This is far from the “best of both worlds”.

So what’s the lesson for us in Scotland?

Well, given some of the people who were spinning lines about Brexit are the very same people in the UK “Union Unit” who are going to be spinning Project Fear 2 against Scottish Independence, perhaps we should take everything they say with a very large pinch of salt.

Stewart Hosie MP


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