Nicola Sturgeon slams 'interpretation' of her vaccine targets
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Home Office Minister Kevin Foster used a visit to Scotland to speak out against Scottish independence. He said an independent Scotland, part of the Schengen scheme, which permits free travel without passport checks between European nations, would necessitate the construction of a hard border between Scotland and England. Mr Foster challenged Nicola Sturgeon’s party to “start being upfront about the impact of some of their policies”.
Speaking to journalists during his visit to Linlithgow and other parts of the country, Mr Foster said: “If they wanted Scotland to join Schengen that does mean a hard border, it means building a great wall of Gretna.”
A second independence referendum is high on the SNP’s agenda, with support being strengthened by the pandemic and Ms Sturgeon’s victory at Holyrood’s May elections – just one shy of a majority.
However, a few obstacles do remain between where Scotland is today and where it wants to be post-independence.
One of the biggest issues is how to avoid a hard border with England.
While Ms Sturgeon repeatedly failed to explain how she would solve it, Scottish MSP Emma Harper came up with some unpopular ideas.
Ms Harper said the creation of a border with England could create jobs in a separate Scotland despite it erecting barriers with the country’s dominant trading partner.
She said the SNP “can show that a border can work” if Scotland left the UK, and that her party wanted “the softest of borders”.
This is despite the SNP’s blueprint for a separate Scotland to join the EU leading to a hard customs border with England.
In an interview with ITV Border’s Representing Border programme in April, Ms Harper said: “We’ve already got a hard border in the Irish Sea and that’s something that Boris Johnson told us we were not going to have.”
Pressed on why they would add another one in the Scottish borders, she said: “If a border will work we can show that a border will work, there are issues that have been brought to my attention that show that jobs can be created if a border is created.”
Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell said at the time: “This shows how dangerously out-of-touch the SNP really are – they think a border between Scotland and our biggest trading partner would actually create jobs.
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“This half-witted nonsense would be laughable if it wasn’t so irresponsible.
“A harder border would risk the hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs that rely on the UK market.”
This week, peers have found the Northern Ireland protocol could become a constant problem in relations between the EU and UK.
They warn that this could happen if both sides refuse to change their “fundamentally flawed” approaches to resolving the dispute.
A House of Lords committee, created to look at the controversial post-Brexit trading agreements in Northern Ireland, has suggested that Northern Ireland could become a “permanent casualty” of Brexit should a compromise not be found soon.
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The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed on to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
This is done by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
However, currently the EU and UK are unable to agree on the implementation of new checks and processes on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
The committee expressed concern over the “fundamentally flawed” approaches of both the UK and the EU.
They said that the UK approach had a “lack of clarity, transparency and readiness” and suggested that the EU approach showed a “lack of balance, understanding and flexibility.”
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