Interview: Brexit Minister on the way ahead for Scottish Government

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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.

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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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