Sturgeons hard border plan branded smugglers charter

Nicola Sturgeon announces planned date for second referendum

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Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a hard border with England have been branded a “smugglers’ charter”, with officials warning that it would “divide communities” and “cost businesses”. Yesterday, the Scottish First Minister presented the third independence paper outlining economic and currency plans for a Scotland outside of the Union – including a proposal on re-joining the EU for access to the Single Market.

The paper is the latest release in the Building a New Scotland series.

She revealed that “border arrangements would be required to ensure continued trade in goods and services across the UK”.

Hitting out at the plans, Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman Daniel Johnson described it as a “smugglers’ charter that could lead to checkpoints along the border”.

He added: “The last thing Scots need is this manufactured chaos.”

Meanwhile, John Lamont, Conservative MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, warned the plan would cost businesses “time and money every single day”.

Writing in the Scottish Daily Express, he said: “I remember when the SNP used to accept a hard border as a bad thing.

“Now, they champion it as some kind of badge of honour solely because that’s what happens in Scandinavia.

“But the reality is even worse than they presented. The SNP plan would divide communities.

“It would mean regular hassle for people travelling just a few miles south. It would cost businesses time and money every single day.”

He warned that a “hard border” would “put jobs at risk in the borders and beyond” amid the cost of living crisis.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said the paper is an “indulgent distraction” to the current problems facing the country.

He said: “As we face a skills shortage and an economic slowdown the SNP are still determined to pursue a myopic agenda that would see us cut off trade with our closest partner.

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“The Scottish Government seem to have an utterly shambolic idea of what’s best for our economy.”

But the plans were defended by Neil Gray, the Scottish Government’s Europe minister.

Speaking to Good Morning Scotland, he said: “We have produced already three prospectus papers – we’ve got more to come in the series – where we’re setting out the case to the people of Scotland, giving them the information so they can make an informed choice.

“It’s not possible to compare the well-informed choice that people in Scotland are going to make over independence with the back-of-a-fag-packet case that was presented to people before the Brexit referendum.”

In an address yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said that “independence is now essential” in order to “prevent further economic damage being inflicted by Westminster governments”.

She said that Brexit has made the UK even more “ill-equipped to cope with events like the cost of living crisis”.

The First Minister said that the UK Government “cannot be trusted to act in Scotland’s interests”.

She added: “In 2014, we were promised stability if we voted no to independence. Since then, we have been subjected to one serious political crisis after another – all as a result of policies and decisions that Scotland did not vote for.”

Ms Sturgeon said that the third independence paper will demonstrate “that the case for independence is not an abstract argument separate from people’s daily concerns, but has at its heart the ambition to improve the lives, wellbeing and future prospects of the people of Scotland.”

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