Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Relations has held discussions with Orkney’s councillors and officials over the impact of Brexit on the county’s economy. Michael Russell had taken up the invitation from OIC Leader James Stockan.
James Stockan said:
“Whatever the outcome, Brexit is likely to have considerable consequences for Orkney, our community and the Council itself and it was important we discuss this with Mr Russell.
“We considered the potential effects on sectors of key importance to the local economy, including farming, fisheries and tourism.
“Funding from Europe has been of huge importance to Orkney over the past 40 years. We welcome commitments from the Scottish and UK Governments to honour current EU funding programmes until 2020 and stressed the need for support mechanisms to continue beyond that date.
“Much uncertainty still surrounds the Brexit process and we will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and the local government umbrella organisation COSLA as we take steps to prepare for the challenges ahead.”
In the EU Referendum Orkney voted 63.2% to Remain and 36.8% Leave on a turnout of 68.3%.
After the meeting Michael Russell said:
“Many of the key industries across Scotland, including fishing, farming and tourism, will be severely impacted by Brexit and my meeting with Councillor James Stockan and other Elected Members today was an important opportunity to discuss the impact in a specific islands context.
“We know Brexit is going to have huge ramifications for Scotland and the rest of the UK, especially as we are seemingly moving towards a catastrophic no deal scenario, with less than two months to go until we leave the European Union. As a responsible Government, we are committed to taking whatever steps may be necessary to protect our vital interests and key industries.”
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is on a visit to the USA and Canada. Speaking at the Women World Leaders Week at Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, she described the lack of preparedness of the UK Government for Brexit. She also expressed her desire for a second vote on membership of the EU – A People’s Vote.
Nicola Sturgeon said:
“ At present there seems to be no consensus in the UK Parliament for the option of Single Market and Customs Union membership – or indeed any other option – and therefore the Scottish Government’s view is that this issue should be put back to the people.”
She reiterated her intention to announce the possibility of a second referendum on Scottish Independence in the next few weeks.
“ I have said I will outline my thoughts on the timing of a possible independence referendum in the next few weeks – once the terms of Brexit are clearer.
“But, amid the chaos, confusion and uncertainty of Brexit, one thing is clearer than ever. Namely, that Scotland’s vital national interests are not properly served by relying on the Westminster system which treats Scotland as an afterthought, and that those interests can only properly be served by being an independent country.”