SNP MPs at Westminster will “absolutely” vote against the triggering of Article 50, Scotland’s Brexit minister Mike Russell has said.
The Scottish Government minister said if the party’s MPs voted in support of this they would be endorsing Theresa May’s vision of an “isolationist” Britain.
The Prime Minister has made clear her intention to take the UK out of the single market when it leaves the European Union – with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warning in response this “undoubtedly” makes a second independence referendum more likely.
Under the circumstances of a so-called “hard Brexit”, independence campaigners could make “winning progress” if another vote is held, Mr Russell added.
Holyrood’s Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe insisted that in the present circumstances “I don’t think there is any possibility of the SNP MPs supporting the Article 50 Bill”.
He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland that was because “endorsing Article 50 is not just endorsing the vote in the United Kingdom – and of course the vote in Scotland was very different – it’s actually endorsing the type of position Theresa May has taken on the type of Brexit she wants, and that’s endorsing the type of country she wants”.
Mr Russell continued: “She wants an isolationist country, she wants a country that is inward looking and she wants a country which is rejecting the benefits of migration. That’s not the country any of us want to see Scotland being and that is one of the strongest reasons for saying we reject it.”
In the 2016 referendum 62% of Scottish voters backed keeping the UK in the EU, with the Scottish Government having now put forward a paper setting out various options aimed at mitigating the impact of Brexit.
These include the option of Scotland staying in the single market while the rest of the UK leaves, although this has apparently been rejected by Mrs May.
Mr Russell said: “We still haven’t seen the workings that Theresa May used to say we shouldn’t be in the single market – and the reason we haven’t seen them is they can’t exist.”
He warned again that the “clock is ticking” in terms of a second independence referendum, with the Scottish Government having already brought forward draft legislation on this.
He insisted: “We have said that we really want to try to get a negotiated solution, we’ve put everything into that and it doesn’t appear as if that is being treated with the respect it deserves or indeed with the consideration it merits, because this is a very well worked out series of proposals.”
He also stressed that the prospect of another vote on Scotland’s place in the UK is not a threat.
The Brexit Minister said: “There’s no threat being made, we said at the beginning of this process there were a serious of options that needed to be considered, we went through them very carefully.
“We also said there is a democratic mandate, which there is, to hold another independence referendum should we be taken out of Europe against our will, that was actually in the manifesto.”