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Scottish secretary 'will not countenance' no-deal Brexit

Scottish Secretary David Mundell arrives in Downing Street, London, for a Cabinet meeting. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Victora Jones/PA Wire

By Lewis McKenzie, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland

A no-deal Brexit would be "catastrophic" for Scotland, according to David Mundell.

The Scottish Secretary said he would not view such a scenario as being acceptable for the country.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans were last week signed off by her Cabinet, although several members subsequently resigned, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

Mr Mundell branded Mr Raab a "carpetbagger" whose resignation was "about manoeuvring and leadership".

Conservative MP Ross Thomson urged Mr Mundell to join other senior Conservatives in quitting the Cabinet, telling him "no unionist" could support the proposals.

However, the Secretary of State for Scotland indicated that despite reservations about the deal, it is still better than current alternatives.

He told BBC Scotland: "I'm supporting the deal because I believe a no-deal outcome would be catastrophic for Scotland.

"I believe it would be a fundamental threat to the continuation of the United Kingdom and therefore in the round you have to weigh up all the issues.

"These are difficult and complex judgments but I'm not prepared to countenance a no-deal outcome for Scotland.

"Everyone is clear it's not a perfect deal. It's not as bad a deal as characterised. It contains many positive elements in relation to the rights of EU citizens.

"Going forward, it contains this hugely important prospect for Scottish businesses for being able to trade in the EU without tariffs, without quotas - that's the number one thing that businesses have said that they want."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said SNP MPs in Westminster will vote against the deal when it is put forward in the House of Commons.

Mr Mundell suggested the reasons for doing so are linked to campaigning for a second Scottish independence referendum.

He said: "That's why Nicola Sturgeon is so keen on it, that's why she's mandating her MPs to vote for a no-deal Brexit, because she understands that the chaos and disruption that a no-deal Brexit would bring would be the best recruiting base for her independence referendum."

Stephen Gethins, the SNP's Europe spokesman at Westminster, told BBC Radio Scotland the UK Government's handling of Brexit as a "colossal political failure".

He said: "What we need to do it sit down and look at a least-worst option to get a way out of this and I very much look forward to speaking to Labour colleagues to try to make some progress on this.

"You've got a Government right now, during peacetime, that's stockpiling foods and medicines, that's talking about the Army having to be deployed on the streets.

"That is a level of colossal political failure and political crisis we haven't seen for decades and that's why it's right for politicians to be talking to each other and that why it's right for Nicola Sturgeon to be coming down to London this week."

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