The value of being part of the UK single market is four times as lucrative to Scotland as being in the EU, official figures today show.
And the increase in the exports to the rest of the UK has also been significantly higher in the past year.
The latest figures show that in 2015, Scotland’s trade with England, Wales and Northern Ireland amounted to £49.8 billion. This compared to £12.3bn for the EU internal market.
Scotland’s total international exports rose from £27.7bn in 2014 to £28.7bn in 2015, with the UK accounting for a about two-thirds of this.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will if necessary call a referendum on Scottish independence in order to remain part of the EU single market. But it has prompted fears this could jeopardise the country’s place in the UK single market, although the SNP insists Scotland would remain part of this after a Yes vote.
Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “Once again, the facts are making it clear that our own Union of nations is Scotland’s essential union on which our prosperity depends.
“Europe is a vital market place for us too – which is why we want to see a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU following Brexit. But these figures show that to prioritise the EU market before our own Union as the SNP wants is absurd.
“Quite simply, thousands of jobs depend on our ability to trade within the UK without any barriers in our way.”
The figures show that the US is Scotland’s top international trading partner, with £4.6 bn exports.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “Scotland should not face a choice between exporting to the EU or UK. We can do both.
“We are working on an ambitious programme of internationalisation, including measures to broaden Scotland’s export base and to grow exports beyond our traditional markets, which is why I am pleased to confirm membership of our new Trade Board, who will take forward this important work alongside our new hubs in Dublin, Brussels, London and Berlin and our planned network of trade envoys.”
Labour leader Kezia Dugdale called on the SNP to now rule out a second referendum.
“Tory plans for a hard Brexit risk damaging Scotland’s economy – but the SNP government’s own figures show that independence would be considerably worse,” Ms Dugdale said.
“It is simply a reckless nationalist gamble to put access to the UK single market, and all the jobs that depend on it, at risk. That’s why the SNP must drop plans for a second independence referendum.”