- Title: UK frustratingly unclear about Brexit goals - Scottish minister
- Date: 17th November 2016
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (NOVEMBER 17, 2016) (REUTERS) MINISTER FOR UK NEGOTIATIONS ON SCOTLAND'S PLACE IN EUROPE, MICHAEL RUSSELL, BEING INTERVIEWED (SOUNDBITE) (English) MINISTER FOR UK NEGOTIATIONS ON SCOTLAND'S PLACE IN EUROPE, MICHAEL RUSSELL, SAYING: "We will continue to work with the UK government, we're not clear on what they want, exactly how they want it - there is some considerable lack of clarity in the present situation. It's been frustrating but we are entering into those negotiations with good faith and we presume they are too." VARIOUS OF RUSSELL DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (English) MINISTER FOR UK NEGOTIATIONS ON SCOTLAND'S PLACE IN EUROPE, MICHAEL RUSSELL, SAYING: "What we're trying to do is to establish that principle, that if it is a principle that can be accepted - the differential relationship - then I think we can make progress on it. I think everything is doable in those circumstances and that's the message we're getting from the other EU members. Providing everything is done constitutionally, providing the UK is prepared to operate in this way, then things are doable. And that's what we're trying to take forward." RUSSELL DURING INTERVIEW JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) MINISTER FOR UK NEGOTIATIONS ON SCOTLAND'S PLACE IN EUROPE, MICHAEL RUSSELL, SAYING: "So what do we do? We don't go all the way down the route of saying we'll go along with, for example, a WTO [World Trade Organization] option, which nobody knows what it would look like. And there are some sectors that could be big losers. [Journalist asking which sectors.] Agriculture would likely be a big sector in WTO. But we don't know, because with WTO you know it doesn't make much intellectual sense to say that you don't want to have a trading arrangement with 28 nations but jump straight into one in which you've got 164 and all of them are required to agree." RUSSELL SPEAKING RUSSELL'S HANDS RUSSELL DURING INTERVIEW
- Embargoed: 2nd December 2016 21:07
- Keywords: Brexit Scotland Michael Russell strategy negotiations
- Location: BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00158U2YBR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Scotland's Brexit negotiator said on Thursday (November 17) it was still frustratingly unclear what kind of divorce the British government was seeking from the European Union, nearly five months after Britons voted in a referendum to leave.
"We're not clear on what they want, exactly how they want it - there is some considerable lack of clarity in the present situation," said Michael Russell, who is representing pro-EU Scotland in discussions about Brexit.
"It's been frustrating but we are entering into those negotiations with good faith and we presume they are too," he told Reuters during a visit to Berlin. Despite the uncertainty, Scotland would continue to work with the British government, he said.
While 52 percent of Britons voted to quit the EU in the June 23 referendum, a 62 percent majority in Scotland voted to stay in the bloc, putting a strain on the centuries-old union between London and Edinburgh. That has raised the possibility that Scots might press for a new referendum on independence, even though more than 55 percent voted in 2014 to stay in the UK.
A leaked memo this week from consultants Deloitte said Britain has no overall strategy for leaving the EU and splits in Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet could delay a clear negotiating position for six months. The government dismissed it as having no credibility.
Russell, a member of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, has previously suggested Scotland could be allowed to run a separate immigration policy from the rest of the UK to accommodate its different economic and demographic needs within a new constitutional set-up.
Asked how this could work, he said there were various models elsewhere, including Canada, but declined to say which, if any, was the favoured option.
A deal was feasible if people accepted the principle, Russell said.
"I think everything is doable in those circumstances and that's the message we're getting from the other EU members."
Britain intends to formally launch the separation process by the end of March, initiating a two-year negotiating period with the rest of the EU in which a central issue will be access to its tariff-free single market.
Failure to reach a deal could lead to a situation where tariff barriers spring up, defaulting to levels set by the World Trade Organization. Russell said that was not a sensible option, and sectors like agriculture could emerge as "big losers".
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