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May's 100 Unanswered Questions, 100 Days On From Brexit

03/10/2016 11:27
Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

We are now 100 days on from the EU referendum result, and the utter lack of clarity from the Prime Minister and the rest of the UK Government is a shameful abdication of responsibility.

The Tories are in the process of walking the UK economy off a cliff with a vague promise that they'll find a parachute on the way down. It's not good enough.

People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly against leaving the EU - but even Leave voters must be worried by Theresa May's inability to outline even the basics of what 'Brexit means Brexit' actually means.

Today the SNP is publishing 100 Brexit questions 100 days on - it is by no means an exhaustive list, but is shows the sheer scale of uncertainty facing Scotland and the rest of the UK. The Prime Minister is today set to address the Tory conference on Brexit - she needs to take the opportunity to start delivering at least some of the answers.

Theresa May's Brexit ministers are more interested in post-Empire fantasies about commissioning new Royal yachts than doing the hard work required - and this casual approach is putting jobs, investment and economic prosperity at risk.

Trade

1. Will the UK still be a member of the single market?

2. If not, what will the terms of the UK's access to the single market be?

3. Will the UK remain a member of the European Union Customs Union?

4. Was the establishment of the Department for International Trade an admission that the UK has no intention of remaining a member of the European Union Customs Union?

5. Will the UK have to make a financial contribution to the EU?

6. In the Holyrood debate of 30th June 2016 Ruth Davidson said: "Retaining our place in the single market should be the overriding priority." How will the Tories ensure that Scotland remains in the single market?

7. What preparatory work has the UK Government done on the tariff agreements that would be required with the EU and other countries in the event of being outside the single market?

8. Will businesses be able to continue to trade with the EU without customs checks or other administrative costs?

9. Has the UK Government discussed proposed new trade arrangements with the WTO?

10. What guarantees has the UK Government sought or received from other nations that punitive tariff levels will not be imposed on UK produce - such as steel exports - in the event of not being in the single market?

11. Has the UK Government produced any estimates of the likely impact of Brexit on inward investment levels?

12. Has the UK Government spoken to the Japanese Government about the report it published on Brexit, and what guarantees have been sought regarding Japanese investment in the UK?

13. Has the UK Government engaged with the US Government regarding President Obama's remarks - made both prior to and after the EU referendum - that the UK will now find itself "at the back of the queue" when it comes to US trade priorities in Europe?

14. Has the UK Government opened discussions with the United States on a post-Brexit trade agreement?

15. What does the UK Government conclude from President Obama's remarks about the future of the so-called "special relationship" with the United States?

16. Are the talks held by the UK Government since June 23rd with non-EU nations regarding bilateral trade deals in breach of the UK's still current EU treaty obligations? And if so, is the UK risking financial penalties and fines from the EU?

17. On 5 June 2016 the then Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Those campaigning to leave Europe are inviting the British people to make an extraordinary choice - to be the first major economy in history to deliberately choose a second-rate, more restrictive trading relationship for its biggest market..." Why do so many Conservatives who supported 'Remain' now enthusiastically 'choose a second-rate, more restrictive trading relationship for [the UK's] biggest market'?

18. On 18 April 2016 the then Chancellor George Osborne cited treasury analysis saying every household would be £4,300 a year worse off and that the effects of Brexit meant "Britain would be permanently poorer. Britain's families would be permanently poorer too..." How much poorer do the Conservative party believe people in Scotland will be if we were to be pulled out of the EU?

19. On 26 May 2016 Tory MSP John Lamont said that the European negotiating position has allowed international trade agreements that have opened up new markets for Scottish produce but that "We do not know what the alternative would be if the UK voted to leave". Can he or the Conservatives now tell us what the alternative is since they now appear to be backing Brexit?

20. On 21 June 2016 Ruth Davidson said: "Basic questions over restrictions, tariffs or the ability of British workers to operate abroad are dismissed instead of answered...'Out' doesn't just fail the certainty test." Now that she appears to support Brexit what "certainty test" has she met to ensure there will be no such restrictions or tariffs if Scotland were to be pulled out of the EU?

21. On 22 June 2016 Theresa May as Home Secretary warned people in Northern Ireland that there could be "tariffs on exporting goods into the EU" if we're out of the European Union. What level of tariffs do the Conservatives think will be levelled on Scottish goods if Scotland were to be pulled out of the EU?

22. Before the EU referendum vote the Scottish Secretary David Mundell wrote: "Hundreds of thousands of jobs in Scotland depend on having access to the EU's single market. What would happen to the families who rely on those jobs for their livelihoods if we were to pull out of the EU?" What would happen to those families who rely on those jobs if Scotland were to be pulled out of the EU?

23. On 31 May 2015 the then Prime Minister David Cameron warned Eurosceptic Tories that quitting the EU would leave farmers facing punishing tariffs on their exports. He said: "It's for [Eurosceptics] to look those farmers in the eye and tell them if they're going to have to pay tariffs and, if so, how much." How much will Scottish farmers have to pay in tariffs if Scotland were to be pulled out of the EU?

24. Before the EU referendum vote David Mundell wrote: "A vote to leave would trade in our power and influence as the EU's second largest economy for the weakness and irrelevance of observer status". Why does he now support "the weakness and irrelevance of observer status" that will come with Brexit?

25. Before the EU referendum David Mundell wrote: "Others say that losing our free and unrestricted access to a single market of 500 million people...will leave us no worse off. That sounds to me like it's too good to be true." How "true" is it now?

Economic impact

26. What work has the UK Government done on the overall impact of Brexit of employment levels in the UK?

27. Does the UK Government still stand by the pre-referendum economic projection papers published by HM Treasury?

28. Along with Nissan, how many firms have indicated that they are pausing or reviewing investment decisions since the Brexit vote?

29. How will multi-national companies with bases and operations here and elsewhere in EU be supported to maintain those bases and profitability without incurring additional costs?

30. How many inward investment proposals is the UK Government aware of that have not gone ahead since the EU referendum?

31. What is the likely impact of Brexit on exports of Scottish food and drink, such as seafood, meat and whisky to the EU and through EU Free Trade Agreements?

32. Has the UK Government conducted any formal or informal negotiations about EFTA membership?

33. What will the future of passporting for financial services be?

34. On 28 June 2016 Ruth Davidson said: "I am absolutely sure that my role is to ... help [get], particularly in my patch of the world, passporting for financial services". Does she still support getting passporting for financial services and will she support free movement to retain it?

35. What substance is there to suggestions that the UK Government is prepared to agree a continued single market for bankers and the financial services sector alone?

36. On 6 June 2016 the then Prime Minister David Cameron said a 'Leave' vote would "put a bomb under the economy...[and]...we'd have lit the fuse ourselves". How will the Conservative party defuse this metaphoric bomb under our economy?

37. What impact will leaving the EU have on tax revenues?

38. What impact will leaving the EU have on UK GDP?

39. What impact will leaving the EU have on UK productivity?

40. What impact will leaving the EU have on Scottish exports?

41. Has the UK government carried out any assessment of investor confidence in the UK energy market among energy firms?

42. Will the UK Government remove current EU regulations on food and plant safety?

Impact on business

43. Will the UK implement the EU Digital Single Market Strategy and participate in the Digital Single Market?

44. Will Scottish businesses and individuals lose out on the changes to mobile roaming charges coming into effect next year?

45. Will the UK still be a member of the Single Aviation Market?

46. Will the UK continue to adhere to the common rules and procedures of EU consumer protection legislation?

47. Will Scottish businesses and families lose out on the EU pledge to introduce free wifi by 2020 into major EU cities and capitals?

48. Will Scottish businesses and families lose out on the EU pledge to roll out 5G by 2025?

49. Will foods that currently have protected geographical indication under EU law still be protected in this way?

50. What impact will Brexit have on skills in the construction sector?

51. Will the UK Government introduce tariffs on the import of raw construction materials and what impact would this have on public infrastructure projects, including housing?

52. How will the UK Government ensure that Brexit does not make it more difficult for the construction industry to secure loans for building new homes?

53. Will the UK Government guarantee that the operating and administrative costs incurred by LEADER local action groups throughout the lifetime of funded projects will be met?

Workplace rights

54. Will provisions in employment law pertaining to annual leave, which is underpinned by EU law, be maintained after Brexit?

55. Will the rights of agency workers, part-time workers or fixed term workers, all of which are underpinned by EU law, be maintained post-Brexit?

56. Will the health and safety obligations of UK workplaces be maintained after the UK leaves the EU?

57. Will state-guaranteed payments for employees whose employers face insolvency, which are guaranteed by the EU, be maintained after Brexit?

58. Will EU-guaranteed redundancy rights for employees be maintained after the UK leaves the EU?

59. Will the current level of paternity, maternity and parental leave, which is underpinned by EU law, be maintained after Brexit?

60. Will the current anti-discrimination legislation, underpinned by EU law, be maintained after Brexit?

61. Will the working time directive still apply to workers in the UK?

Free movement

62. Will EU citizens living in the UK now be allowed to remain, to work and to retain all their current rights?

63. Will UK citizens have to apply for visas to travel to Europe?

64. Will EU-wide health entitlement cards still be valid for UK citizens?

65. Will UK citizens living in the EU be given the right to remain and retain their rights to access services there?

66. What will happen to the 8 per cent of EU nationals currently employed in our fishing fleet?

67. What will happen to the estimated 30,000 EU nationals working in our food and drink sector?

Personal finances

68. Before the 23rd June vote David Mundell wrote: "All the economic experts predict that the potential damage a Brexit would do to jobs, mortgages and the economy as a whole across Scotland is just too severe." How "severe" will Brexit be for jobs, mortgages and the economy in Scotland if Scotland were to be pulled out of the EU?

69. In his article of 23rd June 2016 David Mundell wrote: "...when Remainers ask...how a collapse in the stock market will impact upon people's pension pots...we deserve to have answers from the Vote Leave campaign." In light of reports that Brexit has caused greater deficits in pension funds, with gilt yields at historic lows, can Mr Mundell tell those pensioners how Scotland being pulled out of the EU will be good for their pensions?

70. On 11 June 2016, Ruth Davidson said: "It's clear that following the fantasy economics of the Leave campaign would put this universal dream [of buying a first home] at risk. Families...can't afford a vote to leave." How will she protect this "universal dream" and how could families in Scotland afford a home if Scotland were to be pulled out of the EU?

EU funding streams

71. What guarantees can the UK Government give on replacing EU structural funding which will be lost as a result of Brexit?

72. What guarantees can the UK Government give on support for farming beyond 2020?

73. Will the UK Government guarantee the £360 million funding Scotland is entitled to receive for fishing, farming and food that is unlikely to be secured by the date of the Autumn Statement?

74. Will the UK Government guarantee the £20 million of ERDF funding allocated for digital connectivity in the Highlands and Islands if contracts cannot be secured by the date of the autumn statement?

75. What will the future arrangements be for managing our fishing resources?

76. Will funding for the fishing sector, through the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund, be maintained?

77. On 15 June 2016 David Mundell said "fishermen are wrong in the sense there is no way we would just go back to Scotland or Britain controlling British waters". Does the Secretary of State still think they are "wrong"?

78. Will the UK Government meet any financial penalties imposed by the EU for not spending Scottish Rural Development Programme funds?

Health and Social Security

79. Will UK workers living in other member states still be entitled to social security benefits?

80. What will the impact of changes to freedom of movement be on NHS staff recruitment and retention?

81. Will the UK continue to participate on EU-wide public health initiatives?

82. Will mutual recognition of medical qualifications across the EU continue?

83. Will the UK continue to adhere to EU-wide medicines regulation?

84. What impact would leaving the EU have on professional sport, including football?

Education

85. Will Scottish students still be able to participate in the Erasmus scheme?

86. How will academics living and working in Scotland, or elsewhere in the UK, be supported to travel to EU countries and Higher Education institutions to participate in learning and research opportunities?

87. Will UK universities and research institutions still be able to access EU funding?

88. Will academics living and working in EU countries be able to travel to Scotland, and elsewhere in the UK, to collaborate on learning and research without a visa?

Justice and Security

89. If the UK Government opts out of a new European policing co-operation framework, how will Police Scotland continue to have access to key data, co-operation and other resources held by the EU crime-fighting agency Europol?

90. Will police in the UK continue to have use of the European Arrest Warrant?

91. On 21 June 2016, Ruth Davidson referenced a number of policing, security organisation and states saying "we're safer in the EU" and that if it came to choice between them and the 'Leave' campaign about "who keeps my family safe I'm going to vote for them every single day of the week and twice on Sunday." Now that she appears to support Brexit how will people's families be safer if we leave the EU?

92. Will the UK have any role in influencing or shaping the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy?

Brexit process

93. If the Courts say that Parliamentary approval is needed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords in order for the UK to exit the European Union, will the UK Government seek that approva

94. Will the UK Government seek approval of the Scottish Parliament before triggering article 50?

95. Will the UK Government ensure that its negotiating position is agreed by all devolved nations prior to article 50 being triggered?

96. When will article 50 be triggered?

97. Will devolved nations be invited to participate in any Brexit negotiations?

98. How many meetings has the Prime Minister had with the Brexit ministers?

Pre-independence referendum promises

99. In the independence referendum the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson promised that voting "No means we stay in" the EU. How do the Tories plan to keep that promise to those that voted No in 2014?

100. In a joint statement of 5 August 2014 David Cameron and the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson - along with Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg then Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, the LibDems' Willie Rennie, signed a pledge saying: "Power lies with the Scottish people and we believe it is for the Scottish people to decide how Scotland is governed." How will the Conservatives keep this pledge on which they won a No vote if Scotland is pulled out of the EU against its will?

Angus Robertson is the SNP MP for Moray and party leader in Westminster

This blog first appeared on the SNP website, and can be read here

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