The SNP has said independence may be the easiest way to keep Scotland in the European Union after the Scottish Secretary said any deal that maintained both UK and EU membership is “fanciful”.
David Mundell pledged to look at any proposal Nicola Sturgeon emerges with from her talks with EU leaders, but said it is difficult to envisage the EU accepting a deal that kept Scotland in both unions.
Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s Europe spokesman, accused the UK Government of sending “mixed messages” by urging the First Minister to pursue a deal that the new Chancellor appears to have ruled out.
Philip Hammond said “the best future for Scotland is inside the United Kingdom ... outside the European Union” on July 14.
Mr Gethins told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Philip Hammond is at odds with the Secretary of State for Scotland.
“We can find innovative solutions to this if only the Westminster government are willing to listen.
“If you look at the way that the EU and the UK have found solutions over the past 40 years I would be very surprised, if there is a political will, if we can’t find a solution to this particular impasse.”
He added: “There are a wide range of options. I think that independence could be one of the ways.
“The evidence that was given suggests that maybe that’s the easiest way to find your way into the EU.
“But there are other ways of doing it, which is why the Scottish Government is working with other parties to find a solution to this.”
Mr Mundell told the same programme he and Mr Hammond are “singing from the same hymn sheet”.
He said: “Philip Hammond was asked if he envisaged circumstances where Scotland would be offered a different deal by the EU, he said he didn’t. I have said: if it is possible then of course it will be looked at.
“The First Minister is welcome to pursue any initiative that she wants to with the EU to see what arrangements she can come back with.
“I certainly don’t think that it is possible for Scotland to remain within the EU and the rest of the UK to be outwith the EU.
“I think that is fanciful.
“I think it’s very difficult to envisage circumstances where the EU would sign up to part of the UK remaining in the EU whilst the rest of the UK left it.”
He added: “We’re looking for the best possible deal for Scotland and the UK from the EU.
“I think that is doable on the basis that will satisfy both interests.
“Of course it’s not going to be doable on a basis that satisfies Nicola Sturgeon’s ultimate aim of making Scotland an independent country.”