Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has called on the UK Government to halt current Brexit negotiations to ensure all available resources can be put towards mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on the environment and rural economy.
Ms Cunningham was speaking ahead of today’s Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs being hosted by the Scottish Government by video conference.
“This is a truly unprecedented and distressing period for the entire country. Therefore all available government resource needs to be put towards tackling COVID-19 and mitigating its effects on almost every area of Scottish society.
“In this context, the Scottish Government feels that a Brexit Scotland did not vote for, and does not want, is an unwelcome and unnecessary distraction. Continuing to plough on could seriously harm our ability to tackle a virus which threatens lives and livelihoods across these islands.
“There is considering scope to discuss the pressures of COVID-19 at today’s meeting, something which is very much welcome. However, the UK Government are determined to press on with leaving the EU at the end of the year. A considerable amount of work is required to ensure this can be done in such a way that minimises the impact on the economy, people and the environment but the resources required for this activity should be devoted towards dealing with the current crisis. Furthermore, parliamentary timetabling cannot physically accommodate the work required to move forward the required legislation.
“We are therefore calling on the UK DEFRA Secretary of State to make the case in the UK Cabinet to halt current Brexit negotiations, which would allow us to refocus these Inter Ministerial Groups fully to co-ordinating and liaising across the four nations on our collective response to COVID-19.”