Scotland must not pay the price for decision to leave EU, says Mike Russell

If Scotland cannot save the UK from itself over Brexit it must save itself from the UK, Mike Russell has said.

Speaking at Holyrood on Wednesday, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Secretary said the country must not be forced to “pay the price” for the decision taken to leave the EU.

A vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was scheduled on Tuesday but was cancelled as MPs prepared to reject it.

Mr Russell said: “Why should people in Scotland have to pay the price of such a catastrophic policy that they do not support, which will harm their life chances and opportunities for generations to come?

“Put bluntly, if we cannot save the UK from itself, we must find a way to save ourselves from the UK.

“Scotland does deserve better. No reasonable person looking at the clusterburach at Westminster this week can deny that.”


In his speech in Edinburgh, Mr Russell outlined the Scottish Government’s alternative proposals to Mrs May’s deal, indicating the Prime Minister had offered “false choices” throughout the Brexit process.

He said short of revoking Article 50 altogether, the Scottish Government would support holding another EU referendum, with the option of remaining provided on the ballot paper.

Mr Russell also indicated the SNP would give its backing to holding a General Election, although stated any no confidence vote in the UK Government would have to be brought by the Labour Party at Westminster, as the official Opposition.

“It’s a government out of ideas, out of talent, out of time and needing to be put out of office,” he said.

“Most seriously of all, it’s a government whose word, from any minister, cannot be trusted and indeed isn’t trusted by anyone who has to work with it.”

He added: “There’s no doubt that she’s entering the end game of her time in office.”

Mr Russell emphasised the Scottish Government has prepared for a no-deal outcome but “no government will be able to do everything required in such circumstances”.

Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said he remains supportive of the Prime Minister, despite a vote of no confidence being triggered by Tory MPs.

Mr Tomkins said: “Whatever the limitations of what they may be able to say in public, I know that there are members right across this chamber who privately admire the Prime Minister, her resilience and her tenacity.

“Whatever our differences, most of us, I think, would concede that she has worked tirelessly to secure from the European Union a deal which she genuinely believes is in the country’s best interests.”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said a General Election must be held for the public to judge not only Brexit but also the Conservatives’ policies in office.

He said: “The Prime Minister has zero credibility, is sidelined in Europe, is in contempt of Parliament, loathed within her own party, the DUP have bailed out.

“Her time is up and the country’s crying out for change.”

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer, who joined parliamentarians from the SNP and Scottish Labour in asking the EU Court of Justice whether Article 50 could be revoked, said the legal clarity given over the decision meant that it be be retained as an option.

He said: “This crisis can be ended and a People’s Vote is the most likely way to achieve that.”