Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has ditched her backing for a special Brexit deal that would see Scotland remain a member of the European Single Market after Brexit.
Writing in her blog, the Scottish Labour leader said an SNP motion calling for backing for such a deal was a “cynical attempt” to “suggest that Holyrood was in favour of Scotland being an independent country”.
Defending her party’s decision not to support the SNP call for Scotland’s Single Market place to be protected, she added: “The SNP submitted a motion that seemed to admit defeat on keeping the whole UK in the EU single market and asked us to take a leap of blind faith in an alternative approach yet to be revealed.
“It set the bar so high that it was likely to fail, as Scotland-only membership is undoubtedly going to be difficult – if not impossible – to achieve. Expert after expert has said as much since summer.”
The blog by the Labour MSP contradicts recent statements in which she offered support for the Scottish Government’s bid to protect Scotland’s EU status.
In a recent letter to Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Labour leader wrote: “We have repeatedly supported your efforts to meet with Governments around the world to not only seek to find a way to retain Scotland’s EU membership but also to make clear that Scotland is open for business.”
The letter, written in September, added: “Scottish Labour will continue to support these efforts to maintain Scotland’s relationship with Europe.”
Dugdale has also previously stated she was “absolutely committed to EU and single market and supportive of SNP efforts to retain both.”
In June the Scottish Labour leader said: “The decision to leave the EU will cause untold damage to Scotland’s economy and standing in the world. Every possible avenue must be explored to not just mitigate the impact. The majority of Scotland’s voters backed remaining in the EU and it is vital that our parliament gives voice to that position.”
The commitments echoed a statement from Scottish Labour Economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie in July in which she said “… the SNP are entirely right to continue to attempt to secure Scotland’s place in Europe,”
Scottish Labour’s new stance now places the party firmly alongside the Scottish Conservatives on the issue of Scotland and Brexit. Ruth Davidson initially backed Scotland remaining in the Single Market but has now drawn back on that support.
With the Scottish Lib Dems also siding with the Tories in Tuesday’s ‘Single Market’ Holyrood vote, but the Scottish Greens siding with the SNP, the Brexit issue is now split along constitutional lines.