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Greens and SNP describe Brexit as ‘unmitigated disaster’ for Scotland

Holyrood’s governing parties have said Scottish independence is the only way to escape the “unmitigated disaster” of Brexit as the UK marks the third anniversary of leaving the bloc.

Then-prime minister Boris Johnson led the country out of the European Union and into its transition period on January 31 2020, but both the Scottish Greens and the SNP on Tuesday hit out at the UK’s performance since it then split from Brussels.

Stephen Flynn, SNP leader in Westminster, said that it is “clearer than ever that Scotland’s best future is in Europe, not under Westminster control”.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP at Westminster (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP and the party’s Europe spokesman, said Brexit had been an “unmitigated disaster” which was “based on snake oil promises by Tory fantasists who wanted to live out their isolationist and imperialist fantasies”.

Mr Flynn, who became leader of the SNP in the Commons in December, said: “The past three years show Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster for the UK economy, public services and cost of living.

“It has cost billions, reduced trade, squeezed growth, hammered household incomes – and provided none of the so-called benefits that were promised.”

The Aberdeen South MP said as the Conservatives and Labour had ruled out a return to the bloc, there was “no route back to Europe under Westminster control”.

“Independence is now the only way for Scotland to escape Brexit decline and regain our place in Europe,” he said.

New MSP’s
Ross Greer said Brexit had been an ‘unmitigated disaster’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In the UK-wide Brexit referendum in 2016, some 52% voted to leave while 48% voted to remain. There was a 72% turnout across the country.

But in Scotland 38% voted to leave while 62% voted to remain, and no Scottish area had a majority leave vote. There was a turnout of 67%.

England and Wales had majorities to leave, but in Northern Ireland most voted to stay in the EU.

In England, large cities such as Leeds, Manchester and London backed staying in the EU.

North of the border Mr Flynn and Mr Greer said polls had shown a majority wanted to rejoin the EU.

Surveys on the topic have consistently shown more than half of Scots support being in the European Union, with support for wanting to leave having fallen as low as 25% in one poll.

Mr Greer, who is an MSP for West Scotland, said that every day “more and more people are concluding that the only way to undo this damage and secure a future in Europe is for Scotland to become a normal, independent nation”.

“In Westminster there is a cosy and self-defeating consensus that we need to maintain Brexit at all costs,” he said.

“The Tories have continued to double down on their disastrous vision but stunningly, Labour have endorsed it as well.

“Keir Starmer says he wants to ‘make Brexit work’ but the truth is that it can never work.”

The SNP and the Scottish Greens formed a powersharing deal in August 2021, in which Green MSPs Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie became junior ministers in the government.

External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson said: “Three years on from Brexit, the evidence is clear that it has been hugely damaging – to the economy, to relations with our fellow Europeans – and has worsened the cost-of-living crisis. The best future for Scotland is as an independent country and EU member state, and part of the world’s biggest single market.

“The UK economy is fundamentally on the wrong path and there is no real alternative on offer within the Westminster system.

“Labour and the Tories are engaged in a disgraceful conspiracy of silence over the costs of Brexit which means that under Westminster control – regardless of who is in office at UK level – the damage will continue.

“But Scotland can have better future. The Scottish Government is committed to giving the people of Scotland a choice in line with our democratic mandate – the opportunity to become a wealthier and fairer economy with independence or a sluggish, stagnating Westminster-controlled economy outside the European Union.”

The UK Government has been approached for comment.