Michael Russell: Scotland should have single market option

Scotland's place in Europe Minister Michael Russell 
with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Contributed

Scotland's place in Europe Minister Michael Russell with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Contributed

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An arrangement to keep Scotland in the European single market even if the rest of the UK leaves is “a right that we should have”, Brexit minister Michael Russell has said.

The Scottish Government will publish options aimed at protecting Scotland’s place in Europe in the next few weeks, with remaining in the single market the key priority, he told Holyrood’s Economy Committee.

Mr Russell said a “differentiated option” for Scotland is the middle ground between a second independence referendum and an “undifferentiated” Brexit, which would see Scotland leave the EU under the same terms as the rest of the UK.

Such options could include membership of the European Economic Area, the European Free Trade Association and the Customs Union.

Mr Russell said: “A lot of our work at present is fleshing out, examining, investigating, building evidence on those differentiated solutions.

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“The key to this, however, will lie in the willingness of the United Kingdom to fold into their negotiating position, whatever that turns out to be, deals and opportunities for other parts of the UK.

“What we are asking for is what we have, and that is an important way of looking at this.

“We are asking for the things that we already have and enjoy. That is not a special deal, that is, I think, a right that we should have.”

Mr Russell would not be drawn on the views of others, including First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and former prime minister of Ireland John Bruton, who have cast doubt on the possibility of Scotland staying in the European single market if the UK as a whole leaves.

“I am ruling absolutely nothing out,” he said.

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