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Ross backs UK Internal Market Bill to 'protect Scottish jobs'

By Lorna Thompson

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MORAY'S MP helped the controversial UK Internal Market Bill to clear its first hurdle yesterday to protect Scottish jobs, he said today.

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross backed the legislation on its second reading in the House of Commons last night, which was passed by a government majority of 77.

Two Tory MPs voted against the government and 29 abstained or did not vote.

All five living former UK prime ministers have spoken out against the legislation.

There will be further hurdles in the coming days for the Bill – which could override the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

However, Mr Ross said he voted for the legislation "at this stage" as a "safety net" for Scottish jobs.

Mr Ross said the Bill would ensure "companies in Forres and Fort William can do the same trade between the four nations of the UK as those in Felixstowe and Farnborough".

He added: "I’ve had a lot of emails from local people about this legislation but this Bill, at its heart, is about jobs and businesses.

Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

"It was telling that not a single SNP MP who opposed this Bill mentioned jobs or businesses.

"This Internal Market Bill will ensure that the £51.5 billion of trade that Scotland does with the rest of the UK continues after we leave the EU single market. That is three times more trade than we do with the whole of the EU put together.

"That's really important for businesses large and small here in Moray and the people they employ.

"The respected Fraser of Allander Institute has estimated that 545,000 Scottish jobs are reliant on trade within the four nations of the UK.

"I am not willing to put that at risk in the middle of a global pandemic.

"That’s why I voted for the Bill at this stage to make sure that safety net for Scottish jobs – and for our communities – is there."

MPs will scrutinise the detail of the Bill in the weeks ahead.

Mr Ross said: "My vote was to allow us to get to this scrutiny stage and I will closely follow this Bill as it progresses."

He added: "I understand the level of concern around media reports that the government is seeking to override provisions in the Northern Ireland Protocol. However, I am committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol. While many steps have already been taken to do so, it is also important to have a safety net should the talks break down before the end of the year.

"The hope is that we still secure a trade deal with the EU before the end of the Transition Period but if we don't, arrangements will then come into force which could put up potential barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. This would breach the Belfast Peace Agreement in that any divergence from the rest of the UK needs the consent of the people of Ireland.

"The proposals in the Internal Market legislation will only come into effect should the joint committee that has been convened to agree these matters cannot conclude its business.

"This is very much a safety net that will only be used if needed but will protect the communities of Northern Ireland and the peace process from damaging default rules that neither the UK nor the EU ever intended to be used."

A third reading of the Bill will take place later this year.

More stories here .

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