Sturgeon: Retaining single market membership is the "least worst" Brexit option

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh Scotland Thursday Oct. 26 2017

It estimates that the Scottish economy will grow at a slower pace than it would if the country stayed in the European Union, with GDP to be 8.5% lower by 2030 than if the United Kingdom had remained a full member of the EU.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says a so-called "no deal" Brexit without a trade agreement would cost Scotland's economy 14 billion euros (12.7 billion United Kingdom pounds) a year.

Ms Sturgeon stressed that she believes Scotland must remain in the single market and customs union after Brexit.

The single market also includes the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

But the Labour leader said in response to Ms Sturgeon's appeal: "I don't quite understand why she would keep saying "join the single market" when leaving the European Union means you leave the single market". While Scots in 2014 were told that they had to remain anchored to the United Kingdom in order to remain in the EU, Nicola Sturgeon is now suggesting that leaving the United Kingdom maybe the only possibility to Remain in the EU.

Ms Sturgeon added: "It beggars belief the UK Government has not produced any meaningful assessment".

The report calculated the cost to Scotland of Brexit and leaving the single market with or without a trade deal.

Sturgeon argued that British Prime Minister Theresa May "wants to leave not only the political structures of the EU but come out of the European Economic Area shows just how extreme the United Kingdom government's position is".

The Scottish Conservatives urged Sturgeon to make it clear she is no longer pursuing such a deal and called on her to back UK-wide trade and immigration rules.

Last year, Sturgeon had underlined in her Scottish National Party (SNP) manifesto that the Europe's single market is far too important to Scotland's economy to lose and Scotland "must have a choice" when the details of a final deal with the European Union is clear in 2018.

Noting that the government is already in talks with countries including the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia about trade, Murray said that it was likely that such deals would favour big business, and likened the approach to the controversial (and for now, off the table) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (Ttip). But UK voters overall backed leaving.

Murray emphasised that the coalition was not against trade but believed that any deals must not be allowed to threaten government's ability to make policy to protect the environment, food safety standards, and workers' rights.

The paper analyses the potential impact of three scenarios: EEA membership similar to Norway's, a Canada-style free-trade agreement and reverting to basic WTO rules.

"Scotland trades four times as much with the rest of the United Kingdom as it does with the European Union, so it is vital that we ensure that market continues unimpeded".

If passed, the move would stop ministers being able to use so-called Henry VIII powers to take Britain out of the single market and customs union.

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