Sturgeon to make case for UK staying in single market 'more loudly than before'


Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to make the case for keeping the UK in Europe's single market "more loudly than before" as the Scottish Government published new research showing that could save every Scot £1,600 a year compared to a hard Brexit.

For the UK to quit the European Union with no deal, forcing trading relationships to revert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would leave Scotland's economy worse off to the tune of £12.7 billion a year by 2030 - the equivalent of £2,300 for every person north of the border, the report claimed.

The analysis - which the Scottish First Minister insisted was "more detailed and extensive than anything so far provided by the UK Government" - showed that, under this scenario, real disposable income and business investment would both fall by about 10%.

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Keeping Britain in the single market is "the least damaging option by far", the research found, with GDP forecast to fall by 2.7% by 2030 - the equivalent to £4 billion or just under £700 per head of population, according to Ms Sturgeon.

Meanwhile, disposable income would fall by 1.4%, with business investment expected to be just under 3% lower.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is clear from these figures that staying in the single market does not insulate us from the costs of leaving the EU but it will minimise those costs.

"Indeed, compared to a hard Brexit staying in the single market will benefit us to the tune of £1,600 per head - £1,600 for every person in Scotland."

Speaking in Edinburgh as she launched the new analysis, the SNP leader insisted: "If Brexit is to proceed, staying in the single market is the only option that makes sense."

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The document looked at what could happen under the "only realistic outcomes of Brexit" - remaining in the single market, the UK striking a trade deal with Europe that is similar to Canada's or a no deal Brexit.

"None of these options are as good as staying within the European Union," Ms Sturgeon said.

"Our economy will take a hit under all of them. However, the least damaging option by far is staying in the single market."

The paper was published as the SNP and other opposition parties ramped up their campaign against a so-called hard Brexit, with Labour facing pressure to join.

Ms Sturgeon said: "With the next phase of the talks to determine the future relationship between EU and the UK due to begin in the next few weeks, it is time now to make that case for continued membership of the single market even more loudly than before.

"Today we do exactly that backed by new evidence of the importance of single market membership to our economic and social prospects."