THE finance ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have accused the Treasury of continuing to keep them in the dark over the economic impacts of Brexit.

The trio spoke out after meeting Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke in Edinburgh.

With Theresa May due to trigger the Article 50 next month, the ministers said they were disappointed at the “lack of assurances” from the UK Government that devolved administrations would influence the Brexit negotiations.

Loading article content

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that if the UK government rejects her plan to keep Scotland in the EU single market after Brexit an independence referendum is “all but inevitable”.

In Wales, the ruling Labour administration and Plaid Cymru opposition have also published a joint plan to maximise access to the single market.

The UK government has promised to "intensify" discussion of the plans, but what this means in practice remains unclear.

The main agenda item yesterday was supposed to be the Budget on March 8, however Brexit inevitably came to the fore.

In a joint statement with the other administrations, SNP Finance secretary Derek Mackay said he was “disappointed about this lack of progress with the UK Government”.

He said: “It is essential for the devolved administrations to be at the heart of any decision making. We need clarity from the UK Government, as we have the right to have our say on how devolved budgets and our economy will be affected by a hard Brexit.

"I asked again that the UK Government give serious consideration to the proposals the Scottish Government has put forward... and responds constructively, in the interests of the people of Scotland.

“Keeping Scotland in the European single market is absolutely essential for Scottish jobs, investment and long-term economic wellbeing.”

Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford added: “A hard Brexit would be highly damaging to the Welsh and UK economy. That is why we have repeatedly called for full and unfettered access to the single market.

“We need a clear signal from the UK Government that the views of the devolved administrations are taken into account so we secure a future post Brexit that works for Wales and for the rest of the UK.”

Stormont Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: “I have previously been on record saying there is a lack of understanding of the calamitous effects that Brexit would have on our local economy and there has been no appreciation of the need for a special status for the North within the EU. Nothing I have heard today changes that.”

Mr Gauke also met business leaders in Fife to discuss export and growth opportunities.

He said: “The UK government and devolved administrations must continue to work together to maximise opportunities to boost the UK economy and support businesses across the country.

“I was pleased therefore to meet my ministerial counterparts today to look ahead to Budget and discuss our economic priorities.”

UK Brexit Minister Robin Walker, who has just been on a two-day visit to Scotland to meet universities, businesses and charities, added: “It's vitally important we get a deal that works for all of the UK, and Scotland's voice will be heard loud and clear as we prepare for the upcoming negotiations. [People in Scotland] are hugely important to us as we continue to form our negotiating strategy.”