First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she believes a deal could be reached which would allow Scotland to retain access to the European single market.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, she said the UK leaving the EU need not entail Scotland being excluded from a separate trade arrangement.
“I think that is possible,” she said.
Speaking later, Scottish Secretary David Mundell agreed to look at any specific proposals put forward by the Scottish government.
The first minister said her government was looking at the detail of how a separate trade deal could work, adding: “We will publish proposals over the next few weeks.”
Ms Sturgeon told the programme her first approach would be to support an acceptable trade deal for the whole of the UK.
She said: “We are going to work with others across the political divide to avert a hard Brexit not just for Scotland but for the whole UK.
“I don’t believe there is a mandate to take the UK out of the single market and I don’t believe there is a majority in parliament.”
The first minister denied she was underestimating the difficulties of finding a solution which allowed Scotland to retain access to the single market if the UK as a whole chose to leave.
“I don’t suggest for a second that would be straightforward or without challenges,” she said.
“But in the unprecedented circumstances we’re in just now, I think there’s an obligation on all of us to try to work out solutions that will allow the vote in Scotland to be respected, just as I understand that Theresa May wants the vote in other parts of the UK to be respected.”
Scottish trade plan
During Ms Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP conference on Saturday, she set out a four-point plan to boost Scottish trade and exports. This would include:
- A new “board of trade” to draw on business expertise
- A trade envoy scheme to recruit prominent Scottish business leaders
- A permanent trade and innovation hub in Berlin
- Doubling the number of Scottish Development International staff working across Europe.
She told party members: “Let me be crystal clear about this – Scotland cannot trust the likes of Boris Johnson and Liam Fox to represent us.
“They are retreating to the fringes of Europe. We intend to stay at its very heart where Scotland belongs.
“We are in a completely new era. A new political era and a new battle of ideas.
“A new era for our parliament, with new powers and responsibilities, and a new era for our relationship with Europe and the wider world.”
Speaking on the Sunday Politics programme, Mr Mundell promised to look at any proposals put forward by the Scottish government – but questioned whether a separate trade deal with the EU would be possible.
He said: “I think it would be difficult to see how that could be achieved.
“But I’ve said before we’ll listen to any proposals that the Scottish government bring forward in relation to advancing the best interests of Scotland.”
He added: “We’ve had four months [since the European referendum] but there’s no specific proposals come forward.”
Mr Mundell declined to say whether he thought the UK government would block a request to hold a second Scottish independence referendum in future.
He said: “I was one of the 62% who voted to remain in the EU but I didn’t do so on the basis that, if I didn’t get my own way, Scotland would be dragged out of the UK.”
Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland may seek separate EU trade deal