Charity leaders have said May's Brexit plan has ignores Scotland and groups that have depended on European funding
Theresa May’s Brexit proposals could see Scotland engulfed in a “hard right-wing little England Britain” a leading campaign group has warned the sector.
Pro-Europe campaigners, the European Movement in Scotland (EMiS) hit out after the prime minister threatened fellow European leaders that no deal with Brussels is “better than a bad deal” in her mind, during a speech on Tuesday where she outlined key objectives she wants Britain to achieve in negotiating its way out of the EU.
Her desire to leave the single market and restrict freedom of movement, EMiS said, will result in lost jobs, price rises, lower employee protection, restrict rights of all of us to travel, study and live freely, and shatter our standing as an outward looking, progressive nation.
"I am very disappointed indeed that the prime minister has ignored the strong democratic will expressed in Scotland to stay in key European policies such as the single market,” the group’s chair Vanessa Glynn said.
“She asks what kind of country we want to be. We do not want to be a hard right-wing little England Britain where Scotland’s voice is drowned out and we have to think ourselves lucky to hang on to the devolution we have already been given but without our place in Europe.
"EMis welcomed the proposals put forward by the Scottish Government to protect Scotland's place in the single market and believes only an integrated market with our closest partners, in the world’s biggest free trade bloc, can ensure Scotland's economic and social future."
Charities too were critical of May’s speech, particularly its lack of detail and tone.
Maggie Lennon, director of the Bridges Programmes, which supports refugees and asylum seekers find work in Scotland, told TFN that May’s “bullying” speech made it even clearer that the entire Brexit approach is designed to curb immigration at all costs.
She also hit out at the notion Britain could become an off-shore tax haven, as hinted by chancellor Philip Hammond, and added she was extremely fearful of Brexit’s impact on workers’ rights, human rights and future funding for social justice and social policy initiatives which are delivered by the third sector.
“A government that thinks like that does not have the interest of the third sector in mind I doubt we have even crossed their radar,” she said.
“I am of the opinion that the sector has very little opportunity to influence the UK government to divert form its course.
“There seems to be no place in the current attitude to negotiations to consider alternatives to the European Social Fund (ESF) or research grants for medical charities it is all about trade.
“Whether any constitutional changes to the make-up of Britain provide opportunities for the third sector to remain in Europe remains to be seen. But we must continue to press the Scottish Government on plan B post ESF and withdrawal in terms of support for the third sector even more than we have been doing.”
Children in Scotland expressed concerns that it and the will of young people in Scotland has been ignored.
Amy Woodhouse, head of policy at the charity, said: “Theresa May talked about creating a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. However, we remain unconvinced that today’s young people believe leaving the EU will help this be achieved.
“As the plan for Brexit develops, we call again for UK governments to proactively engage with children and young people to ensure that every decision and negotiation made from this point onwards takes into account the needs and rights of children and young people, in Scotland and across the UK.”
Backing Children in Scotland’s call, Terri Smith MSYP, chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said: “Looking ahead, we will continue to call on both the UK and Scottish governments to ensure young people’s voices aren’t heard in a tokenistic way, but are listened to at the Brexit negotiating tables.
“To ensure the future is bright, you should listen to those who have the most invested in it – those of us in society who will live through it.”
Elsewhere in the sector, Fraser Kelly, chief executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, welcomed having a clearer sense of direction but said social entrepreneurs, like everyone else, need to know the detail particularly over European trade and EU funding and partnerships.
“Scottish social enterprises have a role as global citizens and many will increasingly extend their international impact,” he added.
"The UK Government must also take into account how Scotland voted in the EU referendum to ensure a fair deal for all."
Jonny Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Wildlife Trust, added: "Regardless of the shape of any future Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union, the Scottish Wildlife Trust believes that, at a minimum, the body of environmental legislation so carefully developed over decades by the EU and transposed into Scottish law must continue to be implemented in Scotland by the Scottish Government.”