Interview: Brexit Minister on the way ahead for Scottish Government


Michael Russell MSP, the man called back into Government to help deal with the consequences of Brexit, spoke about the task facing the Scottish government as they attempt to second guess Westminster and establish the way ahead for Scotland.

Michael Russell MSP

Interviewed before the end of the SNP autumn conference in Glasgow, Russell told interviewer Maurice Smith that he is already hearing from major employers who have “many concerns” about the implication of the UK’s exit from the European Union, and what it may mean in terms of “passporting” in the case of financial services operations, but also in employment of key people and access to existing markets.

Reporting to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Russell is preparing the ground for detailed negotiations with the so-called “Brexit Minister”, David Davis MP. The two met informally soon after the Scottish minister’s appointment in August.

His comments came during a conference which was dominated by Brexit and the Scottish response, with First Minister Sturgeon threatening Westminster with the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum if there are no serious concessions to Scottish interests. This follows a hardening of Downing Street’s attitudes towards Brexit negotiations, which are expected to begin before the end of March. The Scottish Government is concerned that its UK counterpart is ignoring the Scottish vote in favour of remaining within the EU, despite earlier signals from Prime Minister Theresa May soon after she became the UK’s second unelected Prime Minister of the last decade.

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  1. “Michael Russell MSP, the man called back into Government to help deal with the consequences of Brexit, spoke about the task facing the Scottish government as they attempt to second guess Westminster”

    This is what for me makes the entire process of Brexit a complete farce and an spectacularly undemocratic one:
    the Scottish Government, democratically elected by the Scottish people to represent the Scottish people, is having to ‘second guess Westminster’: a government rejected by an 85% of those voting in Scotland during the GE.

    And not just that, that government at Westminster, rejected by an 85% of those voting in Scotland, is planning and ruling the rooster in the forced exit of Scotland out of the EU to a massive detriment for this nation when a 62% of those voted in Scotland did so to remain in the EU. Yet, by the look of it, Scotland doesn’t have a say in its own future. What sort of farce of a democracy is this?

    “The Scottish Government is concerned that its UK counterpart is ignoring the Scottish vote in favour of remaining within the EU”

    At this point I don’t think it is just concern, it is a certainty, actually. The current developments of Brexit are making it increasingly evident for a good proportion of the people of Scotland the fact that voting in UK matters is a complete waste of time for the Scottish people: the Scottish people’s vote is worthless. It is also quite clear that the concept of ‘an equal union’ that we were sold during the indiref1 by those advocating for the Union was, like every other promise they made, a total deception.

    • Yes and not only that but because they know they cannot get Brexit through parliament by a democratic vote of English MPs,they are going to use the Royal prerogative to do it.
      Whilst the London government should implement the democratic wishes of the majority of people in England,it does highlight that essentially WM governments can do what they like without due process.
      Claiming that the EU is an undemocratic institution is at the very least,the pot calling the kettle black and should serve to remind sceptical independence supporters that getting out of England’s feudal state is the number one priority.
      First things first.

    • Agreed and by sending Labour MPs south for all these years continued this farce ,they had no input , no real ability to put our distinct point of view on legislation it was all a jolly wheeze and us mugs fell for it .by removing all but three Unionist MPs that as far as i am concerned was our answer to their bloody worthless Vow and should have triggered an immediate withdrawal of our MPs back to Holyrood to prepare for the removal of Scotland from this one sided Union .

    • “Scotland doesn’t have a say in its own future”

      I’m surprised that anyone in Scotland is still unaware of this rather obvious fact, Maria. I’ve known it ever since I was old enough to vote, some 40 years ago, when I first learned that Scotland was regarded by our Westminster masters as, at best, a sub-state, though as Cameron’s legal advice in the 2014 Ref stated they mostly believe our nation was dissolved in 1707. Robert Graham offers the only real solution, i.e. “..withdrawal of our MPs”. Conveniently we now have a majority of Scots MP’s who claim to believe in independence, though a worry is many are recent unionists and if it took them this long to get the picture, well……. These SNP MPs can do the needful any time and have the Scottish majority to do so. Personally I don’t believe even a Yes result in a IndyRef2 would be respected by Westminister; these people will never willingly concede to Scottish independence.

      • “I’m surprised that anyone in Scotland is still unaware of this rather obvious fact”

        Well, be prepared to be surprised Alf, because sadly there are still quite a few that live on a bubble of their own perfectly unaware of what is really happening. Call it apathy, being gullible, complacency or cognitive dissonance, but unfortunately there is quite a few people in Scotland that still prefer to stick their fingers in their ears than actually listening to the real facts. They will not engage in discussion and prefer to look the other way.

        “Robert Graham offers the only real solution, i.e. “..withdrawal of our MPs”

        As I mention to you in previous occasions, I do not agree with this being currently the best solution for Scotland.

        ‘Cameron’s legal advice in the 2014 Ref stated they mostly believe our nation was dissolved in 1707’

        They can attempt to use legal diatribes like to silence people, but the truth is that once the thought of being a nation is accepted in the minds of enough people there is very little they can do to stop it. I guess this point was reached in September 2014.

        “Personally I don’t believe even a Yes result in a IndyRef2 would be respected by Westminister; these people will never willingly concede to Scottish independence”

        You got a huge point there Alf. This is one of the reasons why I personally believe that Scotland’s only chance to gain its independence from the rUK is within the frame of the EU and with the support of all those countries.

        I admit that I am also very skeptical to the idea that Scotland is going to ‘allowed’ to achieve independence once they drag us out of the EU. In fact, it is my personal opinion that pushing for a very short and hard brexit is May’s gamble to ensure that Scotland remains firmly attached to the UK for many years to come. I guess that one way to counteract May’s gamble would be for the Scottish government to put a provisional date for indiref2 ‘X months immediately after article 50 gets triggered’: in that way, no matter how long it takes for Brexit to start and to be completed there is already certainty that an independence referendum will take place on time for Scotland to remain in the EU if independent.

        • Maria f , I agree with your first paragraph fingers in the ears and the glazed look, i have lost count of the people i have encountered who simply just dont care and can’t be bothered no wonder the Labour party got away with the grand deception for all those years ,
          Regarding withdrawal of our MPs , probably frustration comes into play on that one , playing the Westminster game by their rules we gain nothing, weight of numbers will always win , in a sense we are trapped by this Westminster system and i believe the SNP made a mistake in agreeing to the terms laid out by cameron which were subsequently butchered by all opposing parties and every amendment voted down , thats when they should have acted and not went along with the farce we are now left with ,very limited powers and every promise broken and a hollow Vow .

        • Some vote for the status quo because they are like chronic gamblers – they keep chasing the dream as they see it. They have put all this money in over the years in the expectation it will pay off,………. if they try hust one more time.

          This expectation is supported by the media and their dire warnings if we should have the destructive cheek to govern ourselves as we would wished to be governed.

          Having watched question time from Hartlepool last night, I would use this programme as a propaganda tool for independence . The behaviour of the audience was both foul and foreign to me. “Europeans were to blame for everything and they must go home to their own countries”.

          “Let’s not determine if the Europeans are heart surgeons, bus drivers, accountants or plumbers, they must go home, they are leaching of us and draining our public services.”

          It was truely appalling, the more Scots see this type of behaviour, the stronger the message will be to those who keep gambling our county’s future on the uk busted flush and it will be driven home to them hard, there is nothing left in the uk biscuit tin.

          After the Europeans, attention will be focused on other minorities to become a scape goat as brexit bites, the uk government will line them up. At some point unless Scotland becomes independent, our turn at being the scape goat will come, it won’t be pretty!

          Time to stand on our own two feet!

  2. I agree with all you say Maria f I mean how can 50 odd million votes for one country equal 5million votes to another country the whole thing is farce and always will be and they even put in place a backup evel just to make sure they win and us equal partners have no say

    • not so much a union more an occupation enabled by a diminishing number of people even with 99.99 % of the media they still haven’t been able to silence us , worried you bet they are nothing so far has successfully worked it’s only a matter of time we know it and so do they ,so desperate measures will be used from them expect the unexpected all pretence will be bined including the farce of the BBC being impartial its now in their charter they must protect the Union at all costs .

  3. Negotiation isn’t a word that the UK Guv has ever understood the meaning of, their interpretation of that word has always been entirely different to the rest of the world
    Reason, is another word they have exteme difficulty with
    No matter what the UK Guv say, after they’ve said it they believe they said something entirely different then proceed to make their agenda fit what they didn’t say they said

    Over sixty countries gained their Independence from the UK, why have none of them ever asked to come back
    The most hypocritical of all America who lost countless thousands of lives fighting for that Independence from the UK has the audacity and temerity to advise Scotland to stay within the Union which they themselves gave those lives to escape from

    The only words the UK understands and has ever understood are power threat and commerce, perhaps Scotland with the unintentional aid of Brexit, the EU and good old fashioned Scottish guile can outsmart and out pragmatise the UKGuv this time

    If not, don’t rely on the UK ever to do the right thing in Scotlands interests because in three hundred years that would be a first, and remember they know if we win an Independence referendum Scotland owns over 8% of all UK assets and territories which runs into the hundreds of billions of pounds which they can’t afford to pay us
    (current estimates range between 150 to 350 billion) Mr and Mrs Average in the UK don’t have a clue how much Scotland is actually worth because they’ve been fed the notion that everything belongs to England which of course they think is the UK and Britain and don’t realise Wales owns stuff Northern Ireland owns stuff but we own a lot more
    They can’t give us bits of land and bits of the Army Navy Airforce and bits of English infrastucture we paid for or bits of Trident and forces budget which they have always witheld as part of the “National defence spending” in which as always Scotlands vote never counted but they nevertheless spent our portion of it and assigned that to us as our “Deficit”

    As in any divorce the family home and or assets are split in an accomodation to both parties, in this case perhaps Scotland will just have our cash equivalent to buy new furniture for our new house

    Without Scotlands assets as part of the UK to support debt no one would give the UK a loan
    Catch 22 for the “Untied” Kingdom

  4. Good interview, giving us a sense of where Mike Russell and his colleagues stand as they go in for what will be a very tough round with a Westminster government absorbed with Brexit and proving every day that they don’t “get” Scotland or Scottish concerns.Good luck to him as he is going to need it.

  5. As an old goat who voted “YES” in ’79, sadly nothings changed – let’s take control of our own resources first, THEN we can talk about Independence 😉

    • Please correct me if I am wrong Graeme, but as part of an oppressive union as the UK is, and being under the thumb of selfserving unionist MPs at Westminster we didn’t elect, how can you get control of your resources?

      I mean, we are even being stabbed in the back by the Scottish unionists themselves! Look back in time less than two years Graeme. We had that callous Scottish Labourite big wig promising – sorry, unethically misleading the public into believing – that we were going to get nothing less than devo max after a no vote and look at where we are. In fact, it is his party, Labour, the one that more actively has stopped Scotland gaining many devolved powers! Absolutely shameless., don’t you think?

      It is because all this that I don’t think Scotland can ever get control of its resources unless it becomes independent first. I think you are always going to be subjected to the convenient-for-some mantra that ‘we must pool and share the resources’, that meaning of course, Scotland has to give but not necessarily receive: we have seen it time and time again.

      Take the oil for instance, how many decades of revenues have we already lost because they were pocketed by Westminster and the rich elite of the South and not invested back in Scotland? Is Scotland going to ever get control of it while in the Union? Well, only when oil is obsolete or our wells are empty.

      And what about Scottish waters, conveniently allocated to England by selfish unionist politicians? Do you think we are going to get those waters back as part of the union?

      Renewables? still subjected to the detrimental rule of a government we didn’t vote for.

      Jobs, subjected to the negative rule of a government we didn’t vote for (the Frigates, or the HMRC jobs are nice examples of this)

      The area of the Clyde: unable to develop because we are forced to house Westminster’s WMDs that Scotland rejected to renew.

      There have been too many examples of this that I am now of the opinion that Scotland is being stripped of jobs and assets deliberately to stop the Scots realising they can be better off independent.

      Take the lunacy that is GERS, for instance, it is presented as if it was a proof that Scotland cannot go independent when in reality, and considering that Scotland is not allowed to have more fiscal autonomy (we have to thank the selfish Labourites for that, I guess) is nothing less than firm proof of the spectacular mismanagement of our economy and resources by an incompetent government at Westminster. Government that, by the way, we didn’t vote for.

      As a previous union and Labour supporter that decided to vote yes in 2014 after listening to self-serving politicians and being disgusted by project fear, my formed opinion in light of all the broken promises of the Better Together bunch, including that of voting NO to remain in the EU and that of becoming the most devolved country of the world, is that the only way for Scotland to control its assets, resources and to flourish is out of this union.

  6. Mother Theresa May of the Blackhole of Wheeshtminster!!!! That waggin finger tae SNP ministers on GERS FIGURES while brushing over £1.6+ trillion deficit made in Wheeshtminster was enough. Halloween is coming buy Mother Theresa of the Blackhole of Wheeshtminster a twig broom tae fly aff tae Timbuctoo or wherever

  7. Maria F, fair point, you are correct – I never really thought about all the scenarios, that was just a hasty “rush-to-judgement” idea on my part 😉

  8. Looks like Treesa has made her position and attitude clear by summoning the representatives of the other nations in the union and saying what exactly f/all , But that wasn’t the point of the whole exercise was it Treesa it was to stamp your perceived authority and make every other part of the kingdom look subservient because this is England’s brexit isnt it ? and your attempt to get everyone to bow down before you aint going to work dear ,Maggie didn’t get the Scots and you aint Maggie honey , so dont take it personally we have watched you in action listened to you , now listen to us F/k off is that clear enough ? if we want a second referendum we will let you know the result in good time .

  9. Democracy in Scotland is a total and utter sham and Scottish votes count for nothing. Kind of reinforces why most nations that have exited from England’s clutches have only done so at the point of a gun.. And with the Brexiteers giving it both barrels of no consideration for Northern Ireland, they may well get their wish. Force it seems is the only thing they understand.


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