Ian Blackford has sensationally claimed that the UK could “very easily” rejoin the EU. He said that being part of the single market is essential for economic growth, describing post-Brexit trade deals as a “fallacy”. The SNP’s Westminster Leader said that the UK’s decision to turn away from the EU was “simply bonkers”.
This, he claimed, is the reason “Scotland will become independent”, arguing the nation is “desperate to get back” to the EU.
Speaking on ITV’s Peston this evening, the SNP’s Westminster Leader said: “We could very easily decide that we want to be in the single market, customs union.
“Being out with both of these structures has done enormous damage, and I would argue that we would benefit from the free movement of people as well.
“If we’re serious about growing the economy then we have to give ourselves the tools to do that.
“There is no question that our farming industry, fishing industry, manufacturing industry, have all been impacted by not having that ability to trade easily with our friends in the European Union.
He added: “It’s simply bonkers that we haven’t got those opportunities.
“And the fallacy of the trade deals that can be done with Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and so on – it doesn’t add up to anything like the scale of the opportunity that we have with the countries on our doorstep.
“It’s one of the reasons I think that Scotland will become independent – because its desperate to get back to the European Union.”
Ms Sturgeon said “independence is now essential” in order to “prevent further economic damage being inflicted by Westminster Governments”.
She said Brexit has made the UK even more “ill-equipped to cope with events like the cost of living crisis”.
Ahead of the paper’s publication, the First Minister said the country had an “abundance of skilled people, innovative businesses, and natural resources”.
But the SNP leader warned: “Scotland’s economy is one of the best performing in the UK – however, the UK economy, particularly post-Brexit, is now lagging behind many EU and international comparators.
“The UK economic model is demonstrably failing and increasingly holding Scotland back. Independence is now essential to build an economy that works for everyone.”
She added: “The UK is poorer than independent European countries comparable to Scotland. It has a lower national income per head, wider inequality and lower productivity. The UK looks like an outlier. Brexit, of course, has turbocharged this. Over time, Brexit will wipe billions of pounds from the Scottish economy.”
The paper is the latest release in the Building a New Scotland series.
But Ms Sturgeon was blasted by political rivals, with the plans branded “utterly shambolic”.
Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative’s finance spokesman, said the SNP had “never been able to make a convincing economic case for independence, and this paper doesn’t change that”.
She said: “Nationalists are consistently unable to address the big questions that the public want answered about independence – on currency, on pensions and about how a hard border would impact our trade with the rest of the UK.”