David Davis has accused the SNP of promoting “civil conflict” in their quest for independence as he faced pressure over protecting workers after Brexit.
The Brexit Secretary mocked accusations that the upcoming general election was solely about capitalising on poor Labour polling and tackling rivalries within the Conservative Party, rather than the negotiations to leave the European Union.
SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins raised concerns over potential job losses at Diageo, amid claims that the drinks giant is moving its Scottish vodka production abroad due to fears about Brexit.
Speaking during the final Brexit questions of this Parliament, Mr Gethins said: “After these questions we go into a general election which the EU has already said will make very little difference to its negotiations.
“It’s got a lot more to do with exploiting a civil war on the Labour benches and preventing yet another civil war on the Tory benches.”
He accused ministers of being “asleep at the wheel” and failing to prevent major job losses from firms nervous about the consequences of Brexit.
To jeers of outrage from the opposition, Mr Davis joked: “I suppose if there’s one thing I should take lectures from the SNP on, it’s promoting civil conflict.
“In terms of the question he put, is it now a priority the promotion of the economy? The answer is yes?”
Mr Gethins hit back, saying the SNP was out-polling the Tories because of its focus on securing a good deal in Europe
He added: “The Secretary of State has put aside these negotiations for narrow political benefit that he won’t have in Scotland. What is he going to do about these threats to jobs?”
Mr Davis responded: “We will seek the best possible deal to maintain our relationship with the European Union and over and above that we will seek the best possible deal with the rest of the world, where we already get 60% of exports from.”