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A Conservative MP has warned people under 30 they will not “reap the benefits” of Brexit.
Andrew Bowie said “we’ve got work to do” to make the UK’s departure from the EU a success – and refused to say how long he thinks it will take for people to see any benefits.
Bowie was appearing on BBC Debate Night, a Scottish debate show for under-30s, on Wednesday.
A languages student told Bowie that the idea of an independent Scotland was attractive to him because of limitations to his university course caused by Brexit.
As part of the post-Brexit deal struck on Christmas Eve last year, the UK government withdrew from the Erasmus scheme, which had allowed student exchanges for more than three decades.
Responding to the student, Bowie said: “We are hoping very much in the near future to allow students from this country to be able to study and enjoy life abroad, but am I going to sit here and say Brexit is perfect, and that your generation is going to reap the benefits?
“No, I’m not, because you’re not, frankly, at the minute. And I can see that we’ve got work to do.”
When pressed how long it will be before people “reap the benefits”, Bowie refused to offer a time frame.
“Not right now,” he said. “The benefits of Brexit are going to be clear to all when we develop our economy… it will come along very quickly.”
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Fiona Hyslop, an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, criticised Bowie's remarks, saying: "Young people do not have time for you or the Conservatives to learn about Scotland and the union, to learn about any benefits of Brexit. There are no benefits of Brexit."
Last month, the UK government unveiled the Turing scheme, which will support students to go on work and study placements abroad from September.
However, this has been criticised as not going far enough.
University and College (UCU) general secretary Jo Grady said the £110m funding for the scheme is about “£83m less than the UK was receiving from the Erasmus scheme”.
Bowie, meanwhile, is not the first Conservative MP to suggest Brexit won’t provide immediate rewards for the UK.
In 2018, then-Brexiteer backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, now leader of the House of Commons, said it could take 50 years to judge whether it has been a success.
Last month, foreign secretary Dominic Raab, another staunch Brexiteer, said people should take a “10-year view”.
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