David Mundell has come under fresh pressure to resign after the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab quit over Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement, warning it would damage the Union.
Mr Mundell said he backed the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement put before the cabinet on Wednesday despite widespread concern over provisions on Northern Ireland and fisheries.
He had come under pressure from within the Scottish Conservative group at Westminster to quit, with the pro-Brexit MP Ross Thomson understood to have called on him to resign.
All 13 Scottish Tory MPs including Mr Mundell put their names to a letter to Theresa May, delivered to Downing Street as Wednesday’s marathon cabinet meeting got underway, saying they could not support a deal that offers EU fishing fleets unrestricted access to British waters in exchange for a customs union.
Mr Mundell had previously sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, also warning he could not support a deal that places Northern Ireland under a different regulatory regime from the rest of the UK.
But on Wednesday night, the Scottish Secretary said in a statement: “I was content to move to the next stage of the process on the basis that Brexit will deliver for our fishing industry – as I and colleagues set out in our letter – and on the basis that arrangements for Northern Ireland will not undermine the economic or constitutional integrity of the UK.”
In a video clip posted on social media, Mr Mundell added: “I believe it’s very, very important that we get a deal.
“The right deal, of course. A deal that, particularly in Scotland, recognises our wish to leave the Common Fisheries Policy - but a deal. Because a no deal outcome to Brexit would be the worst possible outcome for Scotland in terms of our economy and the effect on the lives of everyone who lives there.
“That’s why I backed moving to the next stage of the process today.”
hadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird said Mr Mundell must quit.
“It is farcical that the Brexit Secretary has resigned because the Prime Minister’s deal undermines the integrity of the UK, while the Scottish Tories stay silent,” Ms Laird said.
“So much for standing up for Scotland’s place in the UK.
“Ruth Davidson and David Mundell threatened to resign if the integrity of the UK was put at risk – and it appears Theresa May has simply ignored them. It’s clear this Tory government is a threat to the future of the UK.
“If David Mundell had a back bone then he would resign with immediate effect.”