EIGHT years on, Scotland has yet to reap the benefits of a Brexit forced upon it by a Westminster government despite 62% of the country’s voters backing Remain in the 2016 referendum.

The most recent Brexit border control squeeze brings a greater chance of delays with regards to getting food items on to Scottish grocery shelves and the likelihood of shortages.

The possibility of increasing food prices emerges, adding to the existing cost of living crisis. It is anticipated that doing business with the EU, and the cost of food for British consumer, could increase by more than £330 million a year.

Households will regrettably shoulder this additional cost, leaving them with less money in their pockets as food inflation, a major contributor to the cost of living problem, is projected to increase by 0.2% over the next three years.

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On the doorsteps, the majority of households (52%) already say their cost of living has gone up since the beginning of the new year, primarily as a result of rising gas and electricity costs, while one in every five persons (19%) reports being unable to feel adequately comfortable in their house because they had to choose between heating and eating.

Brexit’s border control pinch further adds to households’ concerns and Scotland continues to face the unfortunate repercussions. Food items such as cheese and dairy goods, chilled and frozen meat and seafood, and fruit and vegetables, are likely to see price increases.

As Scotland remains heavily involved in European trade – with more than 40% of its imports coming from and 54% of its exports going to Europe – only proper trade deals with minimal tariffs can resolve this potential issue with Scotland’s largest international trading partners.

Brexit was not given Scotland’s consent, yet Holyrood’s powers have diminished with regards to decisions on international trade relations. For the time being, negotiations and decisions on free trade agreements and other international relations on behalf of the United Kingdom (UK) are ultimately within the purview of the UK Government.

Therefore, until full powers are established, Scotland continues to pay the huge price of Brexit.

The National: Brexit

Devolving international trade matters to the Scottish Parliament would give Scotland leverage, as in other devolved matters, to undertake trade arrangements without Westminster’s final consent.

This would allow Scotland to craft its own national trade policy and negotiate on free trade agreements with its largest trading partner.

Regrettably, for Scotland to join the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or EU, it would have to be recognised as a sovereign state. This makes independence the only and final path back into the European Union, where ambitious, progressive, and expansive free trade deals might be enjoyed.

For the time being, the UK Government must give Scotland a genuine involvement and say in trade policies that will impact Scotland. The existing co-operation framework represented by the concordats is included within the UK Memorandum of Understanding on devolution agreed in 2012.

This outlines structures and guidelines for collaboration on a range of topics, including EU and foreign affairs, between the UK Government and the devolved administrations.

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It is, however, not legally binding and there is no legal requirement for the UK Government to co-operate and work in the interest of Scotland.

At the absolute least, establishing a legally obligatory institutional basis for collaboration on trade policy issues is essential.

Creating systems that empower and recognise Scotland’s interests in trade policy is a far superior approach. A legally binding, more inclusive approach that allows for a wide-ranging discussion to determine trade policy would convey a much more positive message about the kind of nation the UK aspires to be in the post-Brexit era.

It appears that Scotland’s interests are not taken into account by the existing system. As with the recent Brexit border control squeeze, it raises questions about whether Scotland was consulted by the UK Government before it took this disastrous action, an action that will likely add to households’ cost of living and works against, rather than for the Scottish people.

With more than 10 years of professional experience in academia, the public, private, and third sectors, Dr Shelly-Ann Brown has a PhD in Economics from Edinburgh Napier University and Masters Degrees in Economics from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.

Her interests include economic growth and development, international trade, anti-poverty and immigration/equality issues.

She is currently the National BAME Convener for the Scottish National Party