The UK faces a "lost decade" as it tackles the reality of Brexit and Scots should be ready to consider independence to avoid this scenario, Nicola Sturgeon has told MSPs.
The First minister hit out at the "unacceptable and breathtaking" delay of the UK Government drawing up any kind of plans for Brexit three months after Britons voted to leave the EU in the June referendum.
Scotland's minster for Brexit, Mike Russell, will hold talks with his UK counterpart David Davies in London tomorrow. But Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood's European committee today she has become increasingly "frustrated" at the delay in setting out Scotland's role in negotiations to untangle the UK's relationship with the Brussels bloc.
The SNP leader has already said that a second independence referendum is an option that she may pursue to protect Scotland's place in the EU.
And the protracted timescale is not yet "fully appreciated" by the public, according to the SNP leader who warned that the "article 50" process to leave the EU is only the start.
"That doesn't necessarily determine the new relationship between the UK and the EU - that will take goodness knows how many years after that. There will presumably require to be a transition period and then `how long is a piece of string' when it comes to considering the time it will take to put in place a new trade deals between the UK and not just the EU but other countries.
"I do think there is a real risk that the UK is facing right now a lost decade or more with the uncertainty and turmoil of Brexit and everything that comes after that before there is clarity about what the UK's place in Europe and the world actually is, will dominate and the damage that will do to our economy and other areas of our society and life will be deep and severe.
"That's why I'm so concerned about this."
Ms Sturgeon dismissed claims by some commentators that the impact of Brexit may have been exaggerated, after the latest unemployment figures today showed a major rise in Scots in work.
"Brexit hasn't started yet," she said.
"We haven't even started this process yet and that potential for a lost decade for the UK should make us all sit up and take notice.
"And in Scotland it should make us think very carefully about whether there are better alternatives to just accepting that we have to be part of that."