Nicola Sturgeon has said Brexit may have to be delayed to avoid the UK veering over an economic "cliff-edge" if it leaves the Brussels bloc without a deal on future relations.
The First Minister has today written to other opposition leaders in the UK saying that a choice between no-deal or a blind Brexit, then an extension to the Article 50 negotiation process must be "on the table."
The UK is due to leave the European Union next March but it appears increasingly unlikely that any deal on trade and customs arrangements will be reached by then.
Ms Sturgeon has today said that the Prime Minister and the rest of the UK political establishment need “an urgent reality check,” as she warned that the Brexit process was heading toward a choice between two “completely unacceptable” scenarios – a no-deal Brexit or a ‘blind Brexit’.
“Both options are unpalatable and completely unacceptable," the SNP leader said.
"A no-deal Brexit will – by the UK Government’s own admission – lead to dire economic consequences and a shortage of medicines and foodstuffs. Meanwhile, a ‘blind’ Brexit will simply kick all of the difficult decisions into the long grass – but with the UK already out of the EU. Not only would that continue the uncertainty, it would be tantamount to stepping off a cliff edge blindfolded, with no idea of what the landing place will be.
“It’s time for everyone in the UK political establishment to wake up to the reality of what now faces us. If the choice we face is between no deal and no detail, then an extension to the Article 50 negotiation period must be on the table as the only way to avoid an economic cliff edge and allow all alternative options to be considered.
“Of course, even at this late stage, Theresa May can escape the corner into which she has boxed herself. For two years, the Scottish Government and many others have been telling the Prime Minister that by far the least damaging Brexit option would be to remain in the single market and customs union – it is time for her to listen.”
The First Minister described the likely lack of agreed detail with the EU about the UK’s future relationship as a "dereliction of duty" on the part of the UK Government and that Prime Minister Theresa May was preparing to ask parliament to agree to the UK’s final exit from the EU with no knowledge of future trading relationships, customs arrangements or tariffs.
The SNP leader added: "The Prime Minister, along with most of her party, are in need of an urgent reality check. The Scottish Government set out plans almost two years ago outlining how, short of remaining in the EU, the best option for Scotland and the whole of the UK would be to remain in the single market and customs union.
“And for two years, the Prime Minister has been promising that there would be a detailed, jointly-agreed position on the future relationship with the EU long before the UK was scheduled to leave. But with as little as two months before Parliament could be asked to take a decision, all the focus has been on the Withdrawal Agreement and it seems increasingly likely that the statement on the future relationship will be vague and lacking in meaningful detail – leaving all the difficult issues that have defied resolution in the last two years to be decided in the transition period, with no guarantee whatsoever that acceptable solutions can be found."