A no-deal Brexit could see unemployment north of the border increase by about 100,000, Scotland’s Constitutional Relations Secretary has told MSPs.
Mike Russell issued the warning as he branded both the UK Government and the Conservative Party “a real danger to Scotland”.
Giving his latest Brexit update to Holyood, he spoke about some of the possible consequences that could follow if the UK quits the European Union on March 29 with no agreement in place.
Mr Russell said: “It is vital that this chamber and Scotland knows that things will change, and change very fast for the worse, if a no-deal is forced upon us.
“For example, we estimate that a no-deal Brexit could result in an increase in unemployment in Scotland of around 100,000 people, more than doubling the unemployment rate.”
The latest figures for Scotland put the jobless total at 96,000 – but Mr Russell said a no-deal Brexit could mean “we would go from a record low to a level not far off that at the depths of the last recession, with all the human costs which that would entail”.
He told MSPs: “Whatever we as a Government do – and we will do everything we can – we simply could not avoid that sort of damage being done to our economy and our country.
“But one person could – the Prime Minister could.”
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins insisted that Theresa May was “working harder than ever” to prevent a no-deal Brexit from happening.
He told MSPs that Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will publish a new paper this week on the economic impact of such a scenario.
Mr Russell said: “It is now clear beyond any doubt the Conservative Party and the UK Conservative Government pose a real danger to Scotland.
“The only sensible solution now available is a delay to Article 50, a ruling out of a no-deal and a people’s vote.
“We will continue to press for those things with every legislative and political tool and every ounce of energy at our disposal.”
But Tomkins said there was “no recognition” from the Scottish Government “of the plain fact that those who risk a no-deal Brexit are those like Mike Russell and all his SNP colleagues who oppose the Prime Minister’s deal”.
The Conservative stated: “In the real world the Prime Minister is working harder than ever across parties, and with newly independent MPs, and with our European partners to ensure that we leave the European Union with a deal.
“It is manifestly in no-one’s interests for us to leave without a deal. So when is the SNP going to grow up, quit the grandstanding and work with us to get a withdrawal agreement we can all support.”
But Mr Russell said it was “time for the Conservatives to accept responsibility – both in London and here – and to recognise they are causing this disaster, they could avert it”.
He went on the tell the Tories that Scotland “will judge them harshly” for removing the UK from the EU.
The Constitutional Relations Secretary also warned the Prime Minister against trying to get Brexit legislation through the UK Parliament before March 29 if a deal can be agreed – and made clear that the Scottish Government would not give its formal consent to such a Bill.
“This could mean passing laws of the profoundest importance, with consequences for all the devolution settlements, in a few days,” Mr Russell said.
“It can not and should not be done.
“If that Bill is presented to this chamber for legislative consent the Government will recommend that such consent be refused.”