Mike Russell: Conservatives pushing false choice on Brexit plans

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The Conservatives are pushing a “false choice” between a no deal Brexit and the Chequers plans, Scotland Constitutional Affairs Secretary has said.

Speaking ahead of making a ministerial statement at parliament on Brexit preparations, Mike Russell said Theresa May’s Chequers proposal is not acceptable and Scottish Government would continue to press for staying in the EU single market and customs union.

Mr Russell said: “The Tories want to force people to choose between the disaster of a hard Brexit outside the Single Market and the catastrophe of a no deal Brexit.

“That is an utterly false choice – and no one should be fooled into thinking that that makes Chequers in any way acceptable.

“We will continue to make the case, vigorously, for membership of the European Single Market – which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone – and Customs Union.”

He accused the Tories of an “irresponsible, cack-handed approach” to Brexit which he said is “risking disruption on a scale unprecedented in modern times”.

He added: “The Tories should stop putting their party ahead of the country, end their civil war and rule out a no deal outcome immediately.

“The UK Government are behaving as if no deal is inevitable – it is emphatically not.

“But the Scottish Government will continue to do the responsible thing by making sure we have plans in place just in case we face that worst case scenario.

“There is another way. Continued membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union is essential for our economy, society and people.”

The Conservatives accused him of trying to sow division in a bid to boost support for Scottish independence.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “As with everything the SNP says and does around Brexit, this is nothing to do with the wellbeing of Scotland’s people or economy after we leave the EU.

“Mike Russell’s words are aimed at stoking division in the hope it pushes up support for Scottish independence.”

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