Rural and Environment Secretaries write to Defra ministers
Scottish Government “must” be consulted on rural and environment Brexit issues.
Scotland’s Secretaries for the Rural Economy and the Environment have called for the new UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to deliver more transparency around Brexit negotiations.
Mr Ewing and Ms Cunningham expressed disappointment that previous and upcoming discussions with the UK Government have been cancelled by Defra, meaning only two monthly ministerial meetings have taken place so far this year.
Ms Cunningham said:
“We expect regular and substantive dialogue on a range of Brexit issues and the disappointing lack of engagement from the UK Government thus far must not be allowed to continue.
“We have said before that we want to see a new, more inclusive approach from the UK Government, with the process opened up to more voices and more parties and to all four nations of the UK. The Prime Minister must therefore include the Scottish Government at the Brexit negotiating table so we can raise the various pressing concerns, some of which have been outstanding for some time, that are critical to discussions on EU exit,
“Not least among our concerns is the retention of influence over EU energy and environmental policies and the setting of climate change targets, and we will be continuing to press the UK Government for clarity.”
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“We have been very clear throughout this process that the devolved administrations must be considered equal partners in the negotiations and we expect genuine engagement in the process. It is simply unacceptable to have UK Ministers unilaterally cancelling meetings, which involve four partners at short notice and without consultation.
“Brexit affects us all, with Scottish agriculture and rural communities particularly reliant on the EU for investment, labour and financial support. I also want to be clear that the UK Government must not give away permanent access to Scottish waters as part of any trade deals.
“Our ministerial meetings have a key role to play in this process, and we are calling on UK Government Ministers to fulfil their commitment to regular and practical dialogue on these matters.”