SNP demands freedom of movement over North Sea Brexit warning

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The SNP has called on the UK Government to ensure freedom of movement post-Brexit following a warning it could lead to the shutdown of North Sea platforms.

An economic report published by Oil and Gas UK yesterday said a hard Brexit could lead to a skills shortage, meaning vital services like emergency response vehicles may not be available.

Without them, platforms would have to shut down production according to the report.

It adds that seven percent of the offshore workforce are from other EU member countries, and make up five percent of the overall oil and gas workforce.

A group of north east MPs and MSPs for the SNP have written to the home secretary Sajid Javid and business secretary Greg Clark calling for guarantees for North Sea workers.

The letter outlines concerns and asks for “frictionless access to EU workforces” beyond 2020.

It is signed by Aberdeen South MP Kirsty Blackman and Inverness MP Drew Hendry, as well as several MSPs from around the north east –  Stewart Stevenson, Maureen Watt, Gillian Martin, and Kevin Stewart, as well as Mairi Gougeon for Angus.

Aberdeenshire East MSP, Gillian Martin, said: “These grave warnings of Brexit-fuelled worker shortages shutting down production in the North Sea reinforce the urgent need for the Scottish Government to be represented in Brexit negotiations in order to safeguard Scotland’s interests.

“This report also highlights the need for immigration to be controlled by the Scottish Parliament to meet the specific needs of Scotland’s economy.

“Scotland’s oil and gas sector has raised hundreds of millions of pounds for the UK Treasury – guaranteeing access to the EU workforce beyond 2020 is the least they could do to support this vital industry.

“With evidence showing that a hard Brexit could cost the Scottish economy 80,000 jobs – Theresa May needs to start putting the interests of the economy ahead of the right wing of the Tory party.

“There is no need to take the country hurtling towards a harmful hard Brexit regardless of the impact – it is in the interests of both the Scottish and UK economies to guarantee membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union immediately.”

The department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been approached for comment.

Read the full letter below:


Dear Sajid and Greg

We read with considerable concern warnings in the latest Oil and Gas UK Economic Report that worker shortages after the UK leaves the EU could cause north sea oil and gas platforms to shut down operations and production.

We are therefore writing to request that the UK government guarantees continued access to the EU workforce beyond 2020 in order to safeguard Scotland’s oil and gas industry, one of the UK’s most lucrative exports.

The leading industry body Oil and Gas UK report stated that it is “vital that arrangements are in place between the UK and EU to allow the continued frictionless movement of people…. Delays in access to skilled resources from EU countries have the potential to lead to project delays, or to projects being managed from outside the UK, and in some instances could lead to production having to be shut down.”

Scotland’s incredible potential for energy generation and development is indisputable, and this must not be put at risk because the UK government wants to close the door to EU workers.

With evidence showing that a hard Brexit could cost the Scottish economy up to 80,000 jobs, the SNP firmly believes it is in the interests of both the Scottish and UK economies to guarantee membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union.

Can you please provide assurances that frictionless access to EU workforces will continue beyond 2020, in order to avoid the shut down of oil and gas platforms because of worker shortages after Brexit?

Yours faithfully

Gillian Martin MSP
Stewart Stevenson MSP
Maureen Watt MSP
Mairi Gougeon MSP
Kevin Stewart MSP
Kirsty Blackman MP
Drew Hendry MP