Deal may secure single market access
Scotland may seek Norway option for EU links
Scotland is likely to push for membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) to provide a ‘back door’ route to the EU’s single market.
The plan could give EU citizens the right to work in Scotland, helping to maintain a vital source of skilled labour.
The Scottish government is expected to publish its plans for protecting Scotland’s place in Europe in the coming weeks and the EEA option has moved up the agenda, it has been claimed.
Michael Russell, the Cabinet minister for Brexit, has been working on a number of options.
The EEA includes the existing EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Membership gives these three states full access to the single market in exchange for a contribution to the EU budget and acceptance of most EU laws, including free movement of labour.
There is exemption from EU rules on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs.
Scotland’s political parties will be urged to unite today to protect Scotland’s place in the EU Single Market and reject a damaging hard Brexit.
All of Scotland’s major party leaders have said they support Scotland staying in the Single Market in line with the overwhelming view of people living here.
A Scottish Government debate today urges MSPs to back that position and ensure the benefits of Single Market membership are shared fairly across society.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said: “The UK Government is mired in confusion over basic questions such as whether the UK and Scotland should be in the Single Market.
“The right-wing of the Tory party has used this confusion to hijack the process and seems intent on a hard Tory Brexit that will cost 80,000 Scottish jobs.
“Every area of Scotland voted to remain in the EU and today’s debate is an opportunity for the Tories and all other parties to reject a hard Brexit and stand up for Scotland.
“The Conservative manifesto gave an unequivocal pledge for the UK to remain in the Single Market and other parties have been equally clear.
“At this crucial stage while the UK Government is still working out its negotiating position, this is the time to make Scotland’s voice heard and challenge head on those who want to lead us out of the Single Market with all the costs to Scottish jobs and the economy.”
The Scottish government move has emerged alongside reports that Britain has no overall plan for Brexit and the strategy for leaving the European Union might not be agreed for six months due to divisions in Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.
A leaked document, prepared for the Cabinet Office by a consultant, said government departments were working on more than 500 Brexit-related projects and might require an additional 30,000 civil servants.
The memo, titled “Brexit Update”, criticises May for her tendency of “drawing in decisions and details to settle the matter herself.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “This is not a government report and we don’t recognise the claims made in it.”