SCOTLAND must be guaranteed a role in formulating, discussing and implementing future international trade deals after Brexit, a minister has underlined.

Scottish Trade Minister Ivan McKee argued Holyrood and the Scottish Government must have a say in the negotiations, but this did not mean they would demand any vetoes over the agreements.

Speaking in a debate at Holyrood yesterday, McKee said: “Scotland needs a voice at the table to ensure our priorities are not ignored.”

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He added: “The UK Government has talked a good game about giving the devolved administrations a proper place and about devising trade deals that work for the whole of the UK but the reality is somewhat different.

“When put to the test they struggle to treat Scotland and other devolved nations as anything more than narrow sectoral interests.

“At best we are merely offered the chance to comment on already well-developed proposals.”

The minister continued: “The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament must have a guaranteed role in all stages of the formulation, negotiation, agreement and implementation of future

trade deals.”

He denied Scottish Conservative claims that the Scottish Government is seeking vetoes over UK-wide trade agreements.

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins accused the SNP of failing to respect the devolution settlement by seeking to muscle in on the reserved area of UK international trade.

“Not merely content with trampling all over reserved competence, the SNP are demanding a series of five vetos over the exercise by UK ministers of their powers,” he added.

But Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said the Scottish Parliament and other devolved administrations “should have the ultimate say on whether those trade agreements do impact and curtail or constrain devolved competencies”.

The debate came as a leading academic research centre warned securing a smooth transition out of the EU was “vital” to protect the country’s economy. Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute also supported a call made by the First Minister last week for Brexit to be delayed in order to give more time for businesses to prepare for the new trading arrangements with the EU.

In its latest Economic Commentary, the Institute says Scottish GDP grew by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2018, adding the figure was in line with its prediction of a more optimistic outlook for 2018 and is the second quarter in a row Scotland has outpaced

UK growth.

However, it emphasised the continuing fragility of the Scottish economy and stressed the importance to the UK economy of securing an orderly transition upon leaving the EU in March 2019 to avoid potentially damaging disruption to business.

Professor Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to leave the EU – and irrespective of the nature of the final settlement – it is essential that we have an orderly transition. To enable firms to prepare and develop contingency plans it is vital that a deal is reached. Should this require more time to negotiate a workable solution then so be it. Extending the Article 50 negotiation period – but maintaining the same transition timescale to 2020 – may be unpalatable for some but could be essential to protect jobs and livelihoods.”

The report said recent Scottish growth has been relatively broad based with strong performance in manufacturing, which has been boosted by Scotland’s food and drink industry, and tourist-related activities. It said the oil and gas sector has also recovered with Brent crude now trading at around $80 a barrel, up from $30 per barrel in 2016. The Institute predicted Scottish GDP will grow by 1.3% this year and 1.4% in 2019, although it also highlighted the high degree of uncertainty surrounding the forecast.

“As we outlined in June, assuming that a broad agreement on Brexit can be struck, we are cautiously optimistic about prospects for this year and next,” said Roy. “However, the greatest risk to this assessment is the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ outcome to the Brexit negotiations....As the Chancellor, Governor of the Bank of England and head of the IMF have all warned, leaving the EU in March next year with no agreement in place has the potential to cause serious disruption to the UK and Scottish economies.”