MSPs urged to back Scotland remaining within EU single market
MSPs have been urged to unanimously back Scotland's continued membership of the EU single market in a Holyrood debate.
Scottish Economy Secretary Keith Brown wants the Scottish Parliament to "show consensus" over the issue so it can present a united front in calling on the UK Government to look at options to protect Scotland's access to the single market during Brexit negotiations.
The Scottish Government has said it will bring forward proposals to keep Scotland in the single market even if the rest of the UK was not part of the trading agreement.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Brown said: "The people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the European Union, and it is vital that any Brexit negotiation acknowledges and respects that choice.
"This is why I am asking the Scottish Parliament to show consensus on this issue, so we can unanimously call on the UK Government to explore all avenues to protect this access, rather than dragging Scotland out against our will.
"The EU is a vital trading body for Scotland. It's the destination for 42% of our exports, is a market nine times bigger than the UK's alone, contains eight of our top 12 export destinations and contributed £11.6 billion to the economy in 2014."
He said Scotland's membership of the single market is a "key factor" for international firms based in the country, and losing membership would put the free movement of EU citizens at risk.
Mr Brown added: " Cutting ties with the EU single market would seriously threaten Scotland's attractiveness as a place to do business, remove several vital streams of funding, and endanger the security of jobs, businesses and services across the country.
"That is why it is essential that this week our national Parliament sends as united a message as possible that Scotland must remain in the single market."