Scotland’s Brexit minister has accused the Conservatives of spreading “fake news” over the impact of leaving the EU.
Ahead of a major speech by Prime Minister Theresa May on Brexit, Mike Russell said the Tories were “trying to pull the wool over our eyes” by conflating access to the single market with membership.
Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the EU and Russell believes leaving the single market would be “disastrous for jobs and the economy”.
He accused leading Tories of a “con trick” and called out what he described as “fake news” – a term coined during the US presidential campaign. Donald Trump used the phrase in a dramatic press conference in New York last week to discredit potentially damaging stories.
Russell said: “The first part of the con is that leaving the EU and single market will free up £350 million a week for the NHS. But in fact, forcing us out of the single market will hit tax revenues and increase borrowing costs – and consequently cut funding for public services.
“And it now seems clear we’ll have to pay billions of pounds for access anyway – without enjoying the full benefits of membership.
“The second part of the trick is to imply that gaining ‘access’ means the UK outside of the single market will somehow get trade privileges denied to other countries.
“In fact, there’s barely a country on earth that doesn’t have access to the single market in some form or other. But it is access at a price – sometimes a high price.
“The third bit of the con trick is to say that without accepting the principle of freedom of movement of workers the UK can still negotiate an arrangement which is as beneficial as the present one.
Last night a UK government spokesperson said: “We are determined to get the best possible deal for Scotland and all parts of the UK as we leave the EU.”