The Government has published a surprisingly frank letter from Michael Gove to SNP External Affairs minister Michael Russell, in which he explicitly states the “political level contacts that the Scottish Government, including the First Minister, have had” with EU negotiators have “negatively affected the negotiating dynamic”. Sturgeon’s Government has repeatedly sidestepped UK channels to talk to the EU directly.
In the letter, Gove writes that:
“I should record that we have been disappointed by the political level contacts that the Scottish Government, including the First Minister, have had during the period of the negotiations with the EU’s UK Task Force and specifically the EU’s Chief Negotiator. In the view of our officials, this kind of contact, and specifically the discussion of sensitive issues under negotiation is, and has been, detrimental to the overall UK position and has negatively affected the negotiating dynamic.
In particular, the EU appears to have concluded from these contacts that EU offensive asks (for example on fisheries access and the permanent maintenance of the status quo on unfair Common Fisheries Policy quotas) are outcomes the Scottish Government, and perhaps even more damagingly, Scottish stakeholders, support. This is highly regrettable and damaging to UK interests including in Scotland.”
While Sturgeon’s flirtations with Barnier have long been discussed, this is a significant intervention with the Government officially acknowledging the damage they have done. The meetings have been extraordinarily brazen given the Scottish Government has no legal competency over foreign affairs. Read the letter in full below…