PROPOSALS setting out the UK’s future relationship with the European Union are a “step in the right direction”, but do not go far enough to protect Scotland “in any real way from the damage of Brexit”, according to Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell.

Following Friday’s marathon Cabinet meeting at Chequers, Russell questioned whether the proposals, which will see the UK tied to EU rules on goods – but not services – would be acceptable to the bloc’s remaining member states and to hardline Tory party Brexiteers.

Russell described the plans as being a “step towards” continuing membership of the EU single market and customs union, which is the Scottish Government’s preferred position.

But he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme he had doubts about where it would be accepted by Brussels, adding: “I think there are things in it that are not acceptable to the EU and I think that is going to require further negotiation. This is a start, not a finish.”

Russell noted there was “a great deal of muttering” about the proposals from the “extreme Brexiteers” in the Tory Party and others.

“We may be on a journey, it may not be a journey however that Theresa May is capable of taking, given her party,” he said.

“Without staying in the EU there will be damage, but actually the single market and the customs union – the full single market and the customs union, the Norway option – is the least damaging part of it.

“Without freedom of movement, real freedom of movement, there are whole sections of the Scottish economy that are going to suffer very badly. They are suffering already as people are reluctant to come.

“This isn’t the end point, I’m quite sure it isn’t the end point.

“If it is a part of a journey then it is to be welcomed, but that journey has a fair bit to go before Scotland will be protected in any real way from the damage of Brexit.”

Russell spoke out after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “It hasn’t taken long for the #chequers plan to start to unravel.

“It simply underlines fact that if UK is leaving the EU (which I wish it wasn’t), the only workable solution is to stay in single market and customs union.

“As I said yesterday, it’s very much ‘game on’ for that now.”

However, Scottish Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw accused the First Minister and her party of “undermining Scotland’s best chance of a deal with the EU”.

He said: “Her sole interest is in hijacking Brexit to stoke up further grievance, and all to pursue her singular obsession with independence.

“Give it a rest, Nicola. Stop undermining Scotland’s best chance of a deal with the EU.”

All the UK Cabinet members have signed up to the proposals, but backbench Brexiteers have been more critical, with speculation at Westminster that some could be prepared to submit formal letters calling for a leadership contest.

Tory backbencher Andrea Jenkyns said: “I, personally, am prepared to vote against it and if the detail is as bad as we are hearing then I am also prepared to put a letter into the 22 [the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories].

“I obviously don’t want the government to fall, but if I do put a 22 letter in I’d want a new leader. That’s an ideal situation for me rather than the government falling.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove – a key figure in the 2016 Leave campaign – described the package of proposals as a “perfect balance” between the need for close access to Europe and allowing the services industry to diverge from EU regulations.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “One of the things about this compromise is that it unites the Cabinet.”

The plans have to be assessed by the 27 other nations of the EU, but if agreed they would result in the creation of a UK-EU free trade area for goods, with a “common rulebook”. A new “facilitated customs arrangement” would remove the need for checks and controls by treating the UK and EU as a “combined customs territory”.

Sturgeon said the plan had “more realism in it than we’ve seen before from UK Government”, but added: “that’s not saying much”. She also raised concerns about its complexity and said there could still be “massive unresolved questions about acceptability to EU”, adding that it “still reads like cherry-picking”. The FM stressed: “If this becomes the UK starting point in negotiations, it is surely game on for those who would prefer to see a full single market/customs union outcome.”