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Inside Holyrood: The damage caused by Brexit is predictable and visible less than a month on from the full departure of the UK from the EU

By Scott Maclennan

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Green MSP John Finnie.
Green MSP John Finnie.

The damage caused by Britain’s complete exit from the EU in less a month has been as extensive as it was predictable.

From fisheries to justice, education to the environment, Scotland will be counting the cost of this Tory project for many years to come. It is important to remember that the vast majority of Scots foresaw this outcome and thoroughly rejected Brexit at the ballot box, yet here we are suffering for the Conservative’s recklessness.

The chaos facing the fishing industry is especially galling given that the arch-Brexiteers have long since made improving the lot of coastal communities a central pillar of their dogma. That leaving the EU means a bright future for fisheries has been utterly exposed as a lie since the new year.

Recently, Scotland Food and Drink estimated that at least £1 million worth of seafood per day was being prevented from leaving Scotland thanks to a raft of new regulations arising from Brexit. The UK Government knew this would happen, it was an entirely foreseeable outcome, but gave businesses no time to prepare for these changes and instead left them to their fate.

Faced now with the consequences of their actions, senior Tories have shown not a shred of contrition. In the commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg was challenged on the chaos facing fisheries and his response was to declare our fish were now “happier” for being British fish. A flippant and childish response to a serious issue. On top of that, the UK government’s fisheries minister Victoria Prentis casually admitted she didn’t read the Brexit bill because she was “too busy” with a nativity play. These two incidents are emblematic of the contempt the Tories have for Scottish communities and their total unwillingness to help fix a mess they created.

But the damage of Brexit is wide ranging, and the extent to which it has harmed security and policing is also apparent. A development which will delight organised criminals is the end of UK police’s access to the Schengen Information System II (SIS II). This database allowed officers here to access real time alerts on wanted individuals, missing persons, stolen vehicles or firearms and much else besides. Its value as a tool for fighting the most serious crimes was recognised by officers across the country and its disappearance will make their lives harder.

The Tories never tire of portraying themselves as a party that supports business and defends law and order. But their handling of Brexit has hamstrung industries and weakened our police force. Scotland is suffering at the hands of a government it didn’t vote for pursuing a policy it thoroughly rejected. That can’t continue.

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