“This was a long overdue meeting but unfortunately it was, in large parts, hugely frustrating.
“I set out Scotland’s key interests in protecting our place in the single market, securing continued freedom of movement and ensuring social and employment rights are protected. However, despite a full and frank exchange of views around the table we know no more about the UK Government’s approach to the EU negotiations now than we did when we went into the meeting.
“Four months on from the referendum we finally have agreement on a sub-committee of the JMC for the devolved administrations and the UK Government to discuss the issues raised by Brexit, but there is a significant amount of work to do to make sure that the engagement we have is meaningful.
“As a first step we agreed that there must be a detailed work programme developed ahead of the first meeting of the sub-committee. Crucially we agreed that this must be integrated with the wider process so that the devolved administrations can influence key Cabinet Sub-Committee decisions. We also agreed that there will be a further meeting of heads of government in the New Year.
“The Scottish Government is fully committed to engaging with the UK Government and we will seek to use our influence to ensure that the UK does not pursue a hard Brexit. However it is clear from today’s discussions that we must also continue to pursue alternative options, including bringing forward proposals to protect Scotland’s place in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves, and continuing to prepare for the option of a referendum on independence if that is what is necessary to prevent the UK taking Scotland over a hard Brexit cliff edge.”