Staying in Europe’s single market and the customs union is the only “credible plan” to avoid the “twin disasters” of a no-deal Brexit or a so-called blind Brexit, the Scottish Government has insisted.
With six months to go until the UK formally leaves the European Union (EU), Scottish Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell criticised Tory leaders at Westminster over their “chaotic, disastrous” departure plans.
Theresa May is still to win EU support for her Chequers proposals - which have also divided the Tories, with hardline Brexiteers arguing they do not go far enough.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly argued the case for staying in the single market and customs union, claiming this would cause the least damage to jobs and the economy.
With voters north of the border having backed staying part of the EU, Mr Russell said the majority of Scots were still opposed to Brexit.
Despite this, he said Holyrood ministers had “offered compromise after compromise” to the UK Government during its Brexit preparations, but that this had “so far, all been refused”.
Mr Russell said: “If the UK is to leave the EU it cannot be done in the chaotic, disastrous way that is presently being pursued by the UK Government.
“It beggars belief that, six months out from Brexit, the UK Government still has no workable plan and no clear way to achieve any sort of agreement with the EU.
“EU leaders have consistently said they will not accept any proposal that undermines the single market while the UK Government’s own ‘no deal’ guidance confirms the prospect of grounded flights, food supply disruption and delays at border posts if an agreement cannot be reached.”
He added that even a trade deal similar to that negotiated between Canada and the EU “would leave every single person in Scotland £1,600 a year worse off compared to staying in the EU”.
Warning against the prsopect of the UK leaving the EU without a Brexit deal, or with a deal where many of the conditions are still to be finalised, Mr Russell said: “The only credible plan left standing is the Scottish Government’s proposal to stay in the customs union and single market, which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone.
“Our analysis shows this would be the best outcome for Scotland and the UK as a whole, if staying in the EU is not possible.”
He insisted: “We should not be faced with a choice between the twin disasters of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and a ‘blind’ Brexit where we do not have any detail or guarantees on future trading relationships.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We are working at pace to reach agreement on a deal that works in the interests of all parts of the UK, including Scotland, and remain confident of doing so in the autumn.
“Our plan is the only serious and negotiable proposal which respects the result of the referendum and the decision of the UK public to take back control of the UK’s laws, borders and money while protecting jobs, supporting growth, maintaining security co-operation and meeting our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland.”