Nicola Sturgeon has declared the “devil” will be in the detail as she praised Brexit negotiations finally moving to the second phase.
The First Minister has previously labelled Brexit as a “developing disaster”, arguing the process of leaving the European Union had left the UK “engulfed in chaos” and strengthened the case for a second Scottish independence referendum.
This morning she tweeted: “Move to phase 2 of talks good - but devil is in the detail and things now get really tough.
“If #Brexit is happening (wish it wasn’t) staying in single market & customs union is only sensible option. And any special arrangements for NI must be available to other UK nations.”
Ms Sturgeon has demanded that Scotland be allowed to “effectively” stay in the EU single market early this week ahead of the UK Government reaching an agreement with Northern Ireland to advance Brexit talks.
The First Minister insisted there was “no good practical reason” why one part of the UK should be allowed to align its regulations with the EU and “others cannot do the same”.
Ms Sturgeon added: “A UK Government that is able to say that come what may, it will avoid hard borders with Ireland/NI after Brexit can never again tell Scotland that independence would mean a hard border between Scotland the UK.
“While the Scottish Government remains clear that we wish Brexit was not happening and that the UK as a whole was not leaving the European Union, today’s proposed agreement is a welcome step forward in the negotiations. The next phase will be significantly tougher and it is essential all the UK’s Governments are now fully involved in the negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU - something that has not happened to this point.”
The First Minister welcomed the guarantee there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland and said the Scottish Government would seek clarity on how full alignment with the rules of the single market and customs union would be delivered.
She added: “I am absolutely clear that any special arrangements for Northern Ireland must now be available to other nations of the UK - the Scottish Government will not accept any arrangements which risk putting Scotland at an economic disadvantage.
“Short of continuing EU membership, the best outcome for jobs and living standards is to retain membership of the single market and customs union - both in transition and permanently.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the development was “a real step forward”.
She said: “Throughout this process, my overriding priority has been to ensure we act as one United Kingdom and no home nation is left behind.
“I am therefore glad that this morning’s agreement ensures the integrity of the UK.
“The work on a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU27 can now begin.
“This will require more hard work and patience. But I am optimistic that Britain and Europe can together build a new relationship, underpinned by the ties of trade, shared values and mutual interest. It is in all our interests.”
Ms Davidson criticised Ms Sturgeon for linking the developments to Scottish independence, calling on the SNP leader to “give it a rest”.
Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird MP said the news was a “step in the right direction” but careful scrutiny would be needed to shed light on the details of the proposal.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie renewed calls for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.