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Scotland must remain in the EU single market
The importance of Scotland remaining part of the European Union's single market was a key theme during the first in a series of parliamentary debates on the implications of Brexit.
The debate was led by Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe, Michael Russell, who also announced he will meet with the UK Government's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, in London tomorrow.
Mr Russell outlined the single market, stakeholder involvement and the importance of Scotland's input to negotiations as key strands of his approach to discussions with the UK Government.
Mr Russell said:
"The people of Scotland voted by a decisive margin to remain in the European Union, and as a government we are exploring all avenues to give effect to that democratic wish.
"A key element of our continued relationship with the EU must be to remain as a member of the EU single market. Today's debate underlined the importance of that.
"Parliament has given the Scottish Government a mandate to explore all options to protect our relationship with the EU. For continued fairness and opportunity for Scotland's workers, as well as for long-term prosperity for Scotland as a whole, we must not be dragged out of the single market by the hardline Brexiteers.
"Since the result of the EU referendum, the Scottish Government has lost no time in engaging fully and robustly on all fronts. Getting the right deal for Scotland in circumstances not of our choosing must be the shared aim of every MSP and everyone in our country. All Scottish Ministers are fully committed to working with stakeholders on the result of the EU referendum and will continue to do so in the coming months.
"Almost three months have passed since the result of the referendum, yet we still have no idea whether or not the UK Government wishes to remain within the single market.
"We welcome the Prime Minister's assurance that she will not trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty until there is an agreed UK approach for negotiations. However, it is crucial that the Scottish Government participates fully in all negotiations between the UK Government and the EU in the run up to, and during, the Article 50 process.
"During our discussions about the future with the nations of these islands, we continue to stress the absolute necessity of Scotland's voice being an integral and meaningful part of the negotiating process. We will also highlight the importance of respecting and living up to the modern idea of distributed democracy which the different national parliaments and assemblies of these islands embody.
"With that in mind, I will meet with the UK Government's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, in London tomorrow to stress the crucial role this Scottish Government has to play in this process and reiterate the importance of Scotland and the UK remaining part of the single market.
"I look forward to working with everyone who shares that view and who wants to ensure that – whatever the current challenges – Scotland, as a European nation, continues to flourish."