Nicola Sturgeon has branded UK government plans for a post-Brexit customs deal as ‘nonsensical and ridiculous’.
UK ministers have unveiled plans for a new ‘customs arrangement’ with the European Union (EU) after the UK leaves the body.
The so-called ‘temporary customs union’, brought in after March 2019, would aim to avoid border problems during the process, according to the plans.
But in a tweet sent on Tuesday morning, Ms Sturgeon wrote: “Seems UK gov is back to its daft ‘have cake and eat it’ approach to #Brexit.”
She added “They should commit to staying in single market and CU, period.”
The new customs plan is the first in a series of papers Westminster is publishing focusing on key Brexit negotiation issues.
Ministers claimed that the plans would signal the ‘freest and most frictionless possible trade’ with the other European nations.
The document claims the UK could request a ‘temporary customs union’ to be set up by Brussels after it formally leaves the EU in March 2019.
Once the temporary arrangement has expired, the document outlines how the UK could look to negotiate a ‘highly streamlined’ border with the EU, or a new ‘partnership’ with no customs border at all.
But Labour’s Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer dismissed the plans as ‘incoherent and inadequate’, branding them ‘fantastical and contradictory’ as the document prompted a mixed response.
However, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the plan was ‘enouraging’.
Ms Sturgeon elaborated on her initial comments made on Twitter ahead of a public meeting in Montrose, telling the BBC: “You’ve got the UK government appearing to say that they don’t want to stay in ‘the’ customs union, but they want to stay in ‘a’ customs union, which would be pretty much identical to the European customs union that we’re in already. It’s nonsensical and ridiculous.
“I think it increasingly makes the UK government look like a bit of a laughing stock. I wish we weren’t leaving the EU, but if the UK is leaving the EU then the common sense thing to do is to stay in the single market and to stay in the customs union.
“Because that will mean we can continue to export goods and services and continue to travel freely like we can today. I think the sooner we get into a common sense position the better.”
David Davis, the UK’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said he hoped it would be possible to secure a future ‘as close as we can to the current arrangements’.
But Ms Sturgeon said the UK government was increasingly looking ‘a bit ridiculous’, adding: “Why don’t we just stay in the customs union? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.
“[The UK government] seems to be going to great lengths to differentiate something that is pretty much identical to the customs union, from the customs union.”
On the subject of the UK’s devolved administrations, Mr Davis added: “We will take on board their concerns but our primary aim is to look after the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is aimed to help them.”
Scottish and UK ministers are due to hold further talks on Brexit in the next few weeks, after initial discussions in Edinburgh ended in stalemate.