Scotland to strengthen ties with EU despite Brexit, says Mike Russell

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The Scottish Government will seek to strengthen ties with the European Union despite Brexit, the Constitutional Relations Secretary will say.

Mike Russell will reach out to French firms in a speech to the country’s largest business conference MEDEF in Paris on Tuesday.

The Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell. Picture: Ian Rutherford

He will emphasise the Scottish Government’s opposition to a “deeply damaging” Brexit and its support for remaining in the EU single market and customs union.

READ MORE: European scepticism about an independent Scotland gone, says minister

Mr Russell is expected to say: “Scotland hugely values our relationship with France, and we are determined to make it go from strength to strength.

“Business links between our two countries are very important. France is Scotland’s third most important export destination.

“In recent years you have been our largest European inward investor. French businesses employ more than 20,000 people in Scotland. And 10,000 French citizens currently live in Scotland, contributing hugely to our economy and culture and our society.”

He will reiterate the 62 per cent majority vote north of the border for remaining in the EU and argue for the economic and societal value of staying in the customs union and single market

Mr Russell will say: “The UK Government has ruled out single market membership. However, the solutions it does claim to want may not prove to be possible. The potential chaos that could be caused by alternative solutions is becoming all too obvious.

“So for all of these reasons, the Scottish Government will continue to argue for a common-sense approach to Brexit - one which preserves membership of the single market and customs union. We believe that that is the best outcome for Scotland, for the UK as a whole, and indeed for Europe.

READ MORE: Second independence referendum is coming and EU will let us join, insists Michael Russell

“Regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, Scotland will continue to be an outward-looking, open, internationalist country.

“And as part of that, we will continue to encourage trade, inward investment and international collaboration. In doing so, we are making it clear how much importance we attach to our friendship with France.”