Michael Russell has told MSPs that time is running out to prevent Scotland and the UK from driving off a “hard Brexit cliff”.
In a statement to Holyrood, the Scottish Government Brexit Secretary attacked the UK Government for having “no coherent plan” for EU withdrawal.
He promised that the Scottish Government would try and influence the UK Government to adopt a “soft Brexit” and would published its own Brexit plan to protect Scotland’s place in the single market by the end of the year.
“There is a huge amount of work to do to satisfy the Prime Minister’s own requirement for `a UK approach and objectives for negotiations’ before she triggers Article 50,” Mr Russell said.
“As the Welsh First Minister said after Monday’s meeting `time is against us’, given that there are only 18 weeks between the first meeting of the JMC (Joint Ministerial Committee) (EN) and the UK Government’s self-imposed March deadline for triggering the Article 50 process.
“Eighteen weeks: 126 days. We cannot afford to lose a single one of them given the vital importance of this task. A task that includes ensuring that the UK – and Scotland – does not drive straight off a hard Brexit cliff.”
Mr Russell said the Scottish Government would try and influence the UK Government to go for a soft Brexit which maintained “membership” of the EU single market.
“The Scottish Government will bring forward our own detailed proposals to protect Scotland’s interests by the end of this year. A key part of these proposal will be way in which we can maintain membership of the Single Market for Scotland, even if the rest of the UK leaves,” Mr Russell said.