Negotiations over Scotland remaining part of the European single market after Brexit are not dead, the External Affairs Secretary has insisted.
Fiona Hyslop said the Scottish Government will continue to press for a “differentiated deal” to keep Scotland in the single market, even after Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Britain will leave.
Scottish ministers are due to meet their UK counterparts for further Brexit talks at a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee today.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said a “line by line analysis” had been carried out of the Scottish Government’s proposals ahead of the discussions. He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “The conclusion that we’ve reached is that there are a whole range of areas in which the Scottish Government and the UK Government are actually on common ground.
“Where we are not on common ground . . . is on the ideological issue of whether Scotland should somehow be separate from the rest of the UK. We are not in agreement with the Scottish Government on that and at the moment I have not seen evidence which would persuade me that there is a need for a Scotland-specific solution in relation either to market access or in relation to issues around migration.”
As he denied the UK Government is “railroading” through its position, he added: “If there is evidence brought forward as a continuing discussion and dialogue then I’m open to receive that. I don’t have a closed mind.”
Asked on the same programme if negotiations on Scotland remaining part of the single market are now dead, Ms Hyslop said: “Not at all.
“The discussions will take place tomorrow, that’s the first time that the Scottish proposals, Scotland’s Place in Europe, will be tabled. I think the Prime Minister was at pains yesterday to say that Scotland’s paper will be considered and we will hold her to her word.”
Ms Hyslop insisted evidence for a separate arrangement is contained in the plans, adding: “It is technically and legally challenging but it is doable if there is political will. The real test is for Theresa May to determine how precious, as she used the word, is the union to her.
“We’re presenting a case which is not about trying to have a differentiated position as a separate independent country or indeed continuing EU membership. This is a compromise position and we expect the UK to move some way towards us, it can’t just be one-way traffic.”
Nicola Sturgeon has said the Prime Minister’s plan to take the UK out of the single market ‘’undoubtedly’’ brings Scotland closer to a second referendum on independence.
Ms Hyslop said: “I think it is more likely but we will not give up on presenting Scotland’s interest within the framework of what we have to deal with.”
Mr Mundell said: “Of course there could be another independence referendum. The issue is whether there should be and I’m going to continue to argue, as my colleagues will that there shouldn’t be.”