Boris fires back as Nicola Sturgeon blasts damaging Brexit legacy

Brexit is the 'best thing that could have happened' says Wootton

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Five years ago on Wednesday, Britain voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum. But since the vote, the Scottish government have argued Scotland was taken out of the bloc “against their will”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has continued to promise a second vote on independence and a chance for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU.

But after Ms Sturgeon blasted the “damaging Brexit legacy”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hit back and said the country will “maximise the opportunities of Brexit”.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government has delivered Brexit, and now all parts of the UK have a bright future outside of the EU.

“We have established a new points-based system for immigration, overseen the fastest vaccine roll-out anywhere in Europe, and negotiated trade deals with the EU and 68 other countries – opening up fantastic new opportunities for Scottish businesses.

“As we build back better from the pandemic, and level up across the UK, we will seek to maximise the opportunities of Brexit and utilise our new freedoms.”

Mr Johnson’s comments come as Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary, Angus Robertson, said Scotland is “enduring an ever-lengthening catalogue of harms” due to Brexit.

Mr Robertson said: “Five years ago Scotland did not vote for Brexit.

“As this review makes it clear: Scotland is now enduring an ever-lengthening catalogue of harms, inflicted on this country against its wishes.

“This document makes for stark reading for anyone in Scotland concerned about this country’s future welfare.

“From trade and business to education, to the futures and livelihoods of our fellow European citizens, from our farmers, our security, and devolution itself – all have been negatively impacted.

“It’s also increasingly apparent the trade deals being struck by the UK Government are simply not compensating for the loss of EU markets for Scottish businesses.

“The response to the Covid-19 pandemic remains paramount, but it is clear Brexit means Scotland has to consider its future path when the public health crisis is over.

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“Then the people of this country can choose a future trapped in the damaging turmoil of the UK Government’s escalating hard Brexit – or as an independent country free to join its friends and partners in Europe.”

This comes after a new summary of the analysis found UK trade levels have fallen considerably since Brexit.

A third of all manufacturing businesses in Scotland have faced increased costs due to Brexit red tape and nearly half have faced increased transportation costs.

According to the analysis from the Scottish Government, Brexit has also affected Scotland’s workforce in the hospitality, agricultural and meat processing sectors.

Scottish universities have also seen a sharp decline in the number of students and research grants.

The Scottish government’s finding claimed this is because of Britain pulling out of the Erasmus Plus exchange programme.

It also claimed the actions of the UK Government following Britain’s departure from the EU is “doing real and lasting damage to agreed and well-established governance arrangements”.

Last month, Ms Sturgeon said: “It is baffling, and, to be frank, an act of cultural vandalism, that the UK Government has chosen not to participate in the Erasmus+ programme, something it could have continued to do despite Brexit.”

She continued: “The Brexit vote and the decision by the UK Government to pursue a hard Brexit has prompted renewed debate in Scotland about our constitutional future.

“The Scottish Government’s position is that the people of Scotland have the right to decide whether they wish to become an independent country.”

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