Scottish Ministers holding weekly resilience meetings to plan for no-deal Brexit

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister is holding weekly resilience meetings to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Scottish Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell said the Scottish Government Resilience Room, commonly used to deal with national emergencies such as terror attacks, extreme weather or pandemics, was meeting each week.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney chairs the meetings, while cabinet ministers for health, justice, transport and finance contribute alongside organisations including Police Scotland.

He said they are supported by rapid response group of officials which will grow as required and the government is ready to put its plans into action at “very short notice”.

In a statement in the chamber at Holyrood, Mr Russell warned of the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on food security, availability of medicines and food exports.

Mike Russell
Mike Russell said leaving the EU is ‘not inevitable’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

He said: “Our attempts to ensure continuing supplies of medicines are being severely hampered by the refusal of the UK Government to provide us with critical information about which medicines may be subject to supplier problems.

“It is imperative that they provide this information now.”

He said the government had indicated on Tuesday afternoon they would share medicines data but the Scottish Government awaited its arrival.

He urged the Conservatives to work with other parties to revoke or suspend Article 50 to avoid a no deal Brexit and said it would better to have the meaningful vote in the House of Commons next week or on Christmas Eve than in January.

He said: “A no-deal cliff-edge exit is not yet inevitable. Indeed, leaving the EU is not yet inevitable but as a responsible government we cannot wait any longer.

“The consequences and risks are too pressing and too severe.”

Scottish Conservative Adam Tomkins said: “The truth is that there does not need to be any risk at all of a no-deal Brexit for the simple reason that there is a deal on the table – a concluded, negotiated withdrawal agreement.

“A withdrawal agreement which I support, but which SNP MPs are set to vote down. So why does the minister not accept that the only people risking a no-deal Brexit are those who stand like him in opposition to the Prime Minister’s deal?”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said the UK Government must end the Brexit “madness”.

He said: “The Tories are taking Britain to the brink in a game of chance that risks everything to try and save this incompetent and useless government.”

His views were echoed by Ross Greer for the Scottish Greens, while Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “I can’t believe we’re having these discussions of this nature.

“No responsible government would ever allow this to happen. That this is real, shows how irresponsible the Conservative Government has become”.