A TORY Government social media campaign which seeks to demonstrate the UK is more important to Scotland than the EU in terms of trade exports has been attacked as misleading use of taxpayers’ money by the SNP.

Under the message: “Did you know that Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK is worth four times more than its trade with the EU?” David Mundell’s Scotland Office posted pictures on Twitter of a small lorry marked with the EU flag carrying £11.6 billion of goods to Europe from Scotland, and a big lorry with in the Union flag carrying £48.5bn of goods to the rest of the UK.

Stephen Gethins, the SNP spokesman on Europe, said the message was false as it wrongly suggested Scotland had to choose between trading with the UK or the EU.

“This is a false premise from the Scotland Office – Scotland’s trade with the EU and the UK is not a choice of ‘either/or’,” he said.

He encouraged the UK Government to sign up to Nicola Sturgeon’s plans, published on Tuesday, to keep the UK in the single market in a bid to protect exports from all parts of the UK to the bloc.

“Just last week David Davis was telling the people of Ireland that they didn’t have to choose between trade with the EU and the UK. Similarly Scotland’s trade relationship with the EU and UK will remain strong – especially if the UK Government signs up to the plans set out by the Scottish Government just this week.”

He added: “The Scotland Office should spend more time trying to sort out the Brexit mess of their own government’s creation rather than wasting time and taxpayers’ money doing down Scotland’s vital trading relationship with the EU.”

The exports issue has become a focus for Unionists, keen to highlight what they say is an argument that they believe would weaken support for independence.

But pro-independence supporters point to Theresa May’s support for a common travel area in the British Isles which would keep existing trade arrangements open – a situation which would allow an independent Scotland to trade freely with both the UK and the EU. Moreover in a debate last month in Holyrood, Economy Minister Keith Brown said the UK export figures, published by the Scottish Government, did not give the definitive picture, as they did not take account of Scottish goods travelling through the rest of the UK which then ended up in the EU.

Referring to European business investment in Scotland and the £7.3 billion a year EU residents contribute to the Scottish economy, he also said the benefit to Scotland from being in the single market was far greater than trade issues.

“The benefits of being inside the single market go far beyond our imports and exports to the EU,” he said.

“The free movement of people has been a driver of economic growth, and access to a skilled workforce has been important to businesses and in attracting investment into Scotland.”

He added that while the UK export market was substantially larger than the EU market it was “true to say that many of the goods that we export to the rest of the UK go on to be exported to the EU. Therefore, it is not possible to give a definitive figure.”

A Scottish Government spokesman: “Brexit is by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s jobs, prosperity and economy, which why we have always been clear that remaining members of the EU – and members of the world’s largest single market of more than 500 million people, which is around eight times bigger than the UK’s alone – is the best option for our future. The proposals we published this week are designed to keep Scotland in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves – and we welcome the UK Government’s commitment to give them serious consideration in line with previous commitments.”

A spokeswoman for the Scotland Office defended the social media campaign.

She said that the figures used in it were from the Scottish Government’s own analysis, which showed that the UK is a bigger market for Scotland than Europe.