MICHAEL Russell has told MSPs “if Scotland cannot save the UK from itself” over Brexit “we must save ourselves from the UK”.

Speaking at Holyrood yesterday, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Secretary said the country must not be forced to “pay the price” for the decision taken to leave the EU.

A vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was scheduled on Tuesday but was cancelled as MPs prepared to reject it.

Russell said: “Why should people in Scotland have to pay the price of such a catastrophic policy that they do not support, which will harm their life chances and opportunities for generations to come?

“Put bluntly, if we cannot save the UK from itself, we must find a way to save ourselves from the UK.

“Scotland does deserve better. No reasonable person looking at the clusterburach at Westminster this week can deny that.”

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In his speech in Edinburgh, Russell outlined the Scottish Government’s alternative proposals to May’s deal, indicating the Prime Minister had offered “false choices” throughout the Brexit process.

He said short of revoking Article 50 altogether, the Scottish Government would support holding another EU referendum, with the option of remaining provided on the ballot paper.

Russell indicated the SNP would support a compromise of remaining in the European single market and as a third option backed holding a General Election, although stated any no-confidence vote in the UK Government would have to have the votes of the Labour Party at Westminster to succeed.

“I trust that those in the chamber, across all parties, who campaigned to remain in the EU will agree that a second referendum that resulted in our retaining our EU membership would be a good outcome for Scotland,” he said.

“However, short of the best option of staying in the EU, the only other acceptable compromise ... is continued membership of the single market and the customs union. I stress that that would be acceptable only if there was absolutely no chance of our staying in the EU.”

He said the UK Government could request an alteration to the political declaration, to make it clear it wishes the basis of the future relationship to be membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and a customs union.

“In such circumstances, the Irish backstop would never need to come into force. We could then use the transition period to negotiate the detail of the UK’s EEA agreement,” he added.

“We continue to offer solutions, as I have done again today. If those solutions are constantly ruled out and arrogantly dismissed by Westminster and by the Prime Minister herself, we, in this Parliament, must ask ourselves this question: why should people in Scotland – the people whom we are here to represent – have to pay the price of such a catastrophic policy that they do not support and that will harm their life chances and opportunities for generations to come?

Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said he remained supportive of the Prime Minister despite a vote of no confidence being triggered by Tory MPs.

Tomkins said: “Whatever the limitations of what they may be able to say in public, I know that there are members right across this chamber who privately admire the Prime Minister, her resilience and her tenacity.

“Whatever our differences, most of us, I think, would concede that she has worked tirelessly to secure from the European Union a deal which she genuinely believes is in the country’s best interests.”