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Scottish businesses will be better off under May's Brexit deal, says Lidington

David Lidington in Downing Street, London, after he was appointed Cabinet Office minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as Theresa May reshuffles her top team. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday January 8, 2018. Reports suggest that around half a dozen of her senior ministers could be axed or moved, with Number 10 sources indicating the more junior ministerial appointments would continue into a second day on Tuesday. See PA story POLITICS Reshuffle. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

By Lucinda Cameron, Press Association Scotland

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington has insisted that Scottish businesses will be better off under Theresa May's Brexit deal.

Mr Lidington, the Prime Minister's de facto deputy, described the plan as a "good compromise deal" and said the economy would be stronger once it is voted through.

He said the deal would give businesses trading opportunities with Europe and, once the transition period is over, the chance to negotiate free trade agreements with other countries around the world.

MPs will vote on December 11 on Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement.

Asked how Scotland would be better off under the deal, Mr Lidington told BBC Good Morning Scotland: "Scotland will be better off because Scottish business, like business in any other part of the United Kingdom, is promised a closer economic partnership with our neighbours and friends in the European Union than Canada has or other advanced economies have.

"So Scottish business will have the assurance of the UK single market still being there and they will have the advantage of those trading opportunities with our partners next door in Europe but also, once we move out of the transitional period, the opportunity to negotiate our own free trade agreements with other countries around the world as well."

He added: "The economy will be stronger once the deal is actually voted through.

"Because what business at the moment is telling us is that they're putting on ice decisions about investment, decisions about employment because of the uncertainty about the EU negotiations and I think that one of the powerful, pragmatic reasons for supporting what I think is a good compromise deal is to give business that certainty so they can plan and they can take confident decisions about investment."

Mrs May has challenged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to a Brexit TV debate on her EU withdrawal plan.

Asked whether First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other political leaders would be involved, Mr Lidington said: "This is a debate between the leaders of the two biggest parties at Westminster which is where the decision on whether to approve the deal or not will take place.

"The Prime Minister obviously will speak up in favour of the deal she has negotiated, I'm assuming that Mr Corbyn, if he wants to do this, will argue for the rejection of the deal.

"I think if Scottish broadcasters decide whether they want to have a separate debate in Scotland and perhaps invite the First Minister and the Secretary of State to take part there, but I think that's a matter for the broadcasters to discuss amongst themselves."

"This is a binary choice: Do you accept the deal that is on the table or do you reject the deal that is on the table and I think that there is a clarity about having two champions, one for each side of that debate."

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