External Affairs Secretary heads to Brussels for Brexit talks

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The Scottish Government says it will set out its position on Brexit during a ministerial visit to Brussels.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop is to meet MEPs and EU ambassadors in the Belgian city on Monday and Tuesday, where she will say that membership of the European single market and customs union would "mitigate the damaging effects of Brexit".

The visit comes a week after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said keeping the UK within the single market is the "only option that makes sense" if Brexit is to go ahead - as she published a new report which claimed leaving the EU without a deal could wipe £12.7 billion a year from Scotland's economy.

Ms Hyslop said: "We have been clear that leaving the EU will be damaging to our economy and our report published last week highlighted the stark effects Brexit will have on Scotland.

"Membership of both the European single market and customs union is essential to minimise the impact on both Scotland and the UK's economy.

"In addition to the continued economic benefits of being part of the single market and customs union, it will also allow us to continue to collaborate on a range of policies including security, law enforcement and energy markets."

Meanwhile, Holyrood's Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee is in Dublin on Monday and Tuesday to hear about a range of issues relating to Ireland and Northern Ireland that are linked to Brexit.

The committee will meet with the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and learn more about how Brexit could affect key sectors of the Irish economy and trade, a spokeswoman said.

Claire Baker MSP, deputy convener of the committee, said: "Ireland is closely connected with Northern Ireland, Scotland and the rest of the UK through cultural, economic and trading links, not to mention the people that live and travel freely in these countries.

"We want to learn more about the anticipated effects of EU withdrawal and how these might be mitigated to preserve the close and growing collaboration between us."