Gougeon accuses UK Brexit Minister of 'snubbing' Scotland

Pictured (left to right) are Rachael Hamilton MSP, Mairi Gougeon MSP, Tavish Scott MSP, Ross Greer MSP, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Joan McAlpine MSP, Jackson Carlaw MSP, Lewis MacDonald MSP and Stewart McMillan MSP who met in Brussels.
Pictured (left to right) are Rachael Hamilton MSP, Mairi Gougeon MSP, Tavish Scott MSP, Ross Greer MSP, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Joan McAlpine MSP, Jackson Carlaw MSP, Lewis MacDonald MSP and Stewart McMillan MSP who met in Brussels.

Mairi Gougeon MSP met with the European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday and accused the UK’s Brexit Minister David Davis of snubbing Scotland.

The Angus North and Mearns MSP was part of a cross-party delegation of members of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee who made the trip to Brussels to pose questions to Barnier on the Brexit negotiations.

But while Mr Barnier was willing to meet the parliamentary committee, Mrs Gougeon believes it’s high time his UK counterpart Mr Davis did the same.

Mr Davis cancelled a scheduled appointment with the Europe committee earlier this year and has yet to agree to a new meeting.

A specially convened Joint Ministerial Committee – designed to give devolved nations a voice on Brexit – has also failed to meet since Article 50 was triggered.

And Mrs Gougeon, who met with M.Barnier on the very day the UK Government voted through the Withdrawal Bill, said: “It was a real pleasure to meet with Michel Barnier and I think all the MSPs who had the chance to question him and listen to the EU's take on Brexit found it very useful.

“He was a willing participant but it’s incredible that we have found it easier as a committee to arrange a meeting with the EU’s Brexit negotiator than our own Brexit Minister.

“Not only has he failed to meet with MSPs since the UK began formal negotiations to leave the EU but he has made a number of assertions over Scotland’s position on Brexit in his deliberations with the EU negotiating team.

“He has put forward positions in formal papers to the EU on areas entirely devolved to Scotland, but hasn’t consulted with Scotland before doing so.

“The idea behind forming a Joint Ministerial Committee on Brexit was to ensure that all nations in the UK could give their input.

“But how can Scotland or any other devolved nation have an input when there is no Joint Ministerial Committee convened and when the Brexit Minister avoids meetings at Holyrood?

“We have just celebrated 20 years of devolution in Scotland but the actions of the Brexit Minister throughout this whole process show the level of contempt he treats both democracy and devolution."

With farming, fishing and agriculture sectors in Mrs Gougeon’s constituency heavily impacted by Brexit, along with most of North East Scotland, she insists Scotland cannot be ignored any longer.

She added: “We would still welcome the chance for the Brexit Minister to visit the Scottish Parliament and listen to our views.

“We have many pertinent questions around how he proposes to protect Scotland’s interests around jobs, investment and our living standards – whilst maintaining access to the world’s largest economic market.

“Brexit will have an impact on every household in our country one way or another.

“In my constituency and across the North East of Scotland fishing, farming, social care, the NHS- all of these will be impacted by the UK Government’s leaked plans to curb the number of EU migrants coming to our country.

“This could have a devastating impact on production as could the high-tariffs placed on produce, should we fail to get a ‘good deal’ on trade with the EU.

“We need the UK government to take the interests of Scotland into account, especially in relation to the devolved areas that concern us- but so far, and unlike his EU counterpart, the Secretary of State has failed to agree to any appointment and by doing so is ignoring Scotland."