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Scotland 'can't be passenger in cliff-edge Brexit' say SNP

Ian Blackford spoke out ahead of the House of Commons vote on Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal.

Brexit row: Ian Blackford.
Brexit row: Ian Blackford.

The SNP's Westminster leader has warned Scotland "cannot and will not be in the passenger seat" if the Conservative government drives the UK "off the Brexit cliff edge".

Ian Blackford spoke out at the start of a "defining" week for British politics, with the House of Commons to vote on Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal on Tuesday.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has already declared while the Prime Minister's deal is not perfect he will vote for it.

But the most likely outcome appears to be MPs will reject the Withdrawal Agreement - with this potentially exposing Mrs May to a vote of no confidence.

Blackford insisted the "only option" now open to the Government was to extend the deadline for Article 50 negotiations beyond March 29 and have a second referendum.

With the UK due to formally leave the European Union in less than three months, the SNP Westminster leader said the "vote on the Prime Minister's blindfold Brexit deal is a defining moment, not just in the Brexit negotiations but for the future relationships across these islands".

He hit out at both May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying the two main parties at Westminster have "presided over a period of chaos and sheer incompetence".

Blackford said: "As we head into this crucial week it is time they faced up to the reality and dangers they have pushed us towards and act before it is too late.

"It is clear that there is no support for the Prime Minister's deal or for no-deal. "The only option now is to extend Article 50 and let the people decide through a second EU referendum."

He added: "With the Tory government incapable of governing and the Labour opposition unable to oppose the disastrous Brexit plans, the SNP will not idly stand by as the economy, jobs and livelihoods are threatened.

"The ignorance and arrogance of Westminster over the past two years has seen Scotland's voice silenced and its interests side-lined. "The Tory government has lead Scotland down a dangerous path.

"If the Tory government is intent on driving the UK off the Brexit cliff-edge, then Scotland cannot - and will not - be in the passenger seat."

Mundell insisted the withdrawal deal was the "product of tough negotiation" and would permit the country to have an "orderly Brexit".

The Tory MP said: "It brings certainty and that's what the people I speak to want. It is what business leaders across Scotland have been calling for.

"It also avoids the kind of chaos and confusion nationalists crave because they believe it would strengthen their demand for a second independence referendum."

The Scottish secretary added: "I do not claim it is perfect - but it does achieve key objectives."

He warned if the deal is defeated in the Commons on Tuesday, the UK could leave the European Union without any deal in place - or risk Brexit not going ahead which would "fail to respect" the 2016 referendum, "If we do not back this deal, in just 74 days' time the UK risks crashing out of the EU without a deal," Mundell argued.

"Or we could be drifting towards a situation where we fail to respect the referendum result to deliver Brexit.

"Those are the real alternatives to leaving with the Prime Minister's deal."

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