Greenock Telegraph 4th January 2021

I desperately wanted to start the new year looking forward with optimism, with clarity and with purpose. But it’s proving more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s that B word again. It’s haunted us for four years and now it’s threatening to be, not just the ghost of Christmas past, but present and most disappointingly future.

After four years of negotiating the Brexit deal “one of the easiest in human history” according to Liam Fox, Conservative and Unionist MP, we are instead giving up so much that we have benefitted from including our access to the Erasmus Scheme which offered student exchanges as well as school links, work experience and apprenticeships across Europe since 1987. Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: “Leaving Erasmus is a real sadness. Over the years the Erasmus programme transformed the lives of thousands of young people.”

This deal will rip us out of the world’s largest single market and customs union, end our freedom of movement rights, and impose mountains of red tape, added costs and barriers to trade for Scottish businesses. Analysis shows the hard Tory Brexit will cut Scotland’s GDP by around 6.1%, costing more than £9billion or the equivalent of £1,600 for every person. The Associate Director for Immigration, Trade and EU Relations, at the Institute for Public Policy Research, Marley Morris, said that: “For a deal with the UK’s closest neighbour and largest trading partner, this agreement is remarkably weak. In many respects this agreement isn’t far off a no deal.” It is counter intuitive for me to act in any way that is detrimental to Inverclyde and Scotland therefore while Scotland continues to be ignored by the UK government, let me be absolutely clear, I shall continue to do everything that I can to bring clarity to a situation that has the potential to negatively impact on all our lives and in doing so I hope to provide a path to a more fruitful outcome.