SCOTLAND’S representative in the UK Cabinet was on the other side of the world yesterday, rather than being in London putting the country’s case forward at a critical meeting about Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May met with her ministers for an epic two-and-a-half hours in a bid to secure agreement for the major speech she will deliver in Florence today.

Each was asked for their opinion of the Government’s new offer to Europe, which reports suggest inc- ludes €20bn for a two-year transition period, in return for the UK being part of the single market and some form of customs union. However, David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland, was in Argentina on a trade mission.

As the Cabinet met, Mundell was in Buenos Aires visiting San Andres University to hear about their links with St Andrew’s University.

An SNP spokesman said: “David Mundell has a long track record of having zero influence on the Tory Cabinet – his promises to block any backdoor Tory deal with the DUP that didn’t see more money come to Scotland, and of a ‘powers bonanza’ through Brexit, turned out not to be worth the paper they were written on.

“However, this is a hugely important speech from the Prime Minister about our future relationship with Europe – and the failure even to consult the Scottish Secretary speaks volumes. Mr Mundell can’t even claim to be Scotland’s man in Westminster – he’s Scotland’s man in Argentina.”

A Scotland Office source said: “It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the SNP have chosen to play silly games rather than get behind the Secretary of State’s important visit supporting Scottish business interests in South America.”

Meanwhile, May’s speech is likely to infuriate both the Brexiteers and Remainers in the Tory Party.

It seems May will insist the UK is allowed to strike deals with other countries during the transition after Brexit day in March 2019.

It seems unlikely the EU will agree to this. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said in a speech in Italy yesterday that the UK could not have all the benefits of the single market with none of the drawbacks.

He added that if there was a trans-ition period then, as the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk has stated: “this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, super- visory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply”.

This means it is all but impossible that the EU would agree to anything close to what the UK want without freedom of movement continuing. Whitehall thinks the Prime Minister’s offer is “open and generous” and should help speed up talks, and allow Britain and the EU to start trade negotiations. The €20bn would not include the long-term liabilities already agreed to by the UK, such as EU pensions and debts.

Barnier said the clock was ticking on Brexit: “I am convinced that a rapid agreement on the conditions of the UK’s orderly withdrawal, and a transition period, is possible,” he said. “For that to happen, we would like the United Kingdom to put on the table, as soon as next week, proposals to overcome the barriers.”

Tory MP Peter Bone, a hardline Brexiteer, said: “The idea that we continue to pay vast sums of money to the EU would completely break one what was one of the main issues in the referendum”.