The chances of stopping Brexit and keeping the UK in the European Union are the greatest they have been since the Leave vote, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
With Theresa May currently facing a battle to get her proposed Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament next week, the Scottish First Minister said her party would do everything in its power to try to put the brakes on the process.
She spoke out the day after the Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly voted against both the PM’s deal and the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
Following that 92 to 29 vote in Holyrood, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on the First Minister to “reject all and every kind of Brexit”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I do oppose all and every kind of Brexit, I don’t want Brexit to happen, I want Scotland and the whole of the UK to stay within the EU.”
She added: “I do think there is a greater prospect of achieving that aim now than there has appeared to be at any time over the last two and a half years, which is why the SNP will do everything we can to bring that about.”
Mr Rennie said with the Prime Ministster facing “certain defeat” on Tuesday in the Commons, he had “never felt more confident that we can stop Brexit”.
He hit out at the First Minister for arguing for the compromise position of keeping the Scotland in the Single Market and Customs Union.
“We’ve got the Conservatives on the run, so we shouldn’t be hunting for a compromise that has already been discredited,” Mr Rennie said.
“Every kind of Brexit will damage the economy, that is why we should be opposing every kind of Brexit.
“I am frustrated I need to keep raising this with the First Minister.”
Ms Sturgeon told him Tory ministers had already said the proposed Withdrawal Agreement, with its backstop arrangements for Northern Ireland, could give it an “unrivalled advantage” in attracting foreign investment.
“There’s the risk to Scotland in a nutshell,” she said.
“We want to stay in the EU but if that can’t be achieved we want to see solutions that do the least damage to Scotland.”
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she stressed the need for her government to consider “how you protect Scotland’s best interests in all possible circumstances”.
The SNP leader said: “If we can’t achieve keeping the UK in the EU then I have an obligation to look at what then best protects Scotland’s interests.”
She said the “worst possible situation for Scotland to be in” after Brexit would be for the country to “be at a competitive disadvantage with Northern Ireland, which is why we need to have at least the same relationship with the Single Market and Customs Union that Northern Ireland is going to have to have”.
Ms Sturgeon also told the Liberal Democrat: “Willie Rennie and I agree on the issue of Brexit, I do think it is regrettable that he keeps trying to find points of disagreement when actually it would be more powerful for us just to come together and unequivocally agree.”