London- Scotland will publish proposals this week for how it can remain in the European single market after Britain leaves the European Union in order to avoid the “national disaster” of a “hard Brexit,” the Scottish government said Sunday.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal process of leaving the EU, by the end of March to kick off two years of exit talks.
While the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum, Scotland strongly backed remaining in the bloc.
The country’s devolved nationalist government has said it wants to stay part of the EU when the rest of the UK leaves, and on Tuesday will put forward plans for remaining in the 500 million-consumer single market should that prove impossible, according to Reuters.
“In line with our commitments to explore all options to protect Scotland’s interests, we will set out compromise proposals which, while not conferring the full benefits of EU membership, would mitigate the Brexit damage,” said Michael Russell, the Scottish government’s minister for EU negotiations.
“At the heart of our plan is a framework to keep Scotland’s place in the European Single Market,” he added.
Russell said such a plan faced complexities but a “hard Brexit” threatened 80,000 Scottish jobs over a decade.
“That would be a national disaster for Scotland,” he said.
“Brexit presents everyone with an unprecedented challenge, and with political goodwill on all sides and a willingness to cooperate, these proposals can present a solution for Scotland.”
In a common matter, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox suggested on Sunday the UK might remain in the EU customs union after Brexit, a move that would ease some of the practical obstacles to Scottish single market status.
Fox hinted at yet further delays in reaching a Brexit deal.
When pressed on whether he wanted to seek out a transitional EU deal, Fox evasively remarked “it depends” in an interview on BBC Channel.
The Cabinet secretary said the Government will look at “all the options” and that Brexit was not a choice between hard or soft deals.
He said: “I remain a free trader instinctively. But, we can’t go for a quick result; we have to get the right result.”