BORIS Johnson’s deal is “pretty awful” for Scotland and if it goes ahead it will bring independence closer, according to Michael Russell, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations

Speaking exclusively to the National, Russell said: “It’s all set up for Saturday now but quite clearly from Scotland’s perspective this is a pretty awful deal – in fact it’s not pretty at all, it is just awful.

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“It’s a terrible deal for Scotland and it would also leave us as the only part of these islands which is now being dragged out of the European Union completely against our will.

“Wales voted to leave, England voted to leave, and Northern Ireland voted not to leave and has got essentially the type of deal that we argued that Scotland should get in 2016 in our plan Scotland’s Place in Europe.

“Scotland is being given nothing and that is utterly unacceptable. It is democratically unacceptable and it cannot last.”

If the deal goes ahead it will accelerate the moves to a second independence referendum and independence itself, said Russell.

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He stated: “In pretty stark terms if this deal is what happens then it becomes an issue of consent. It puts us into the situation that we have to seek that section 30 order, as Nicola Sturgeon said the other day, in a matter of weeks,

“The arguments for it become more and more unanswerable as every day passes.

“The question is not, as the First Minister rightly said on Tuesday, what we do, the question is what justification can they possibly find in national or international norms to refuse Scotland the right to determine its future when another part of the same union is getting that right. That is unfair and untenable, and it cannot stand.

“But we are not there yet. The SNP will be voting against the deal on Saturday and coming out strongly against it and arguing for a General Election.”

Scotland would be alongside part of the UK that would retain access to the single union and customs market and that gives Northern Ireland an advantage, said Russell.

He said: “The economic matters are very clear, very important and very interesting. I notice, for example, the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland suggesting that there could be a reduction in the level of VAT to the same level as in Ireland which is lower than it is here. There will be all sorts of advantages like that.

“At the base of this, however, is a democratic outrage. If you have Scotland being the only part of these islands to have voted Remain in 2016 and now facing being taken out of the EU, the single market and customs union against our will, then that is an outrage.”

The Scottish Parliament has consistently voted against being removed from the EU, and against the deals proposed by Theresa May. Russell predicted that the Parliament would vote against Johnson’s deal when it comes before Holyrood.

He said: “If it passes on Saturday then parts of that bill have to come before the Scottish Parliament and while I would never presume to speak for Parliament, I am pretty sure it would be rejected there. The Parliament reject it, the people of Scotland reject it and yet it doesn’t matter – that is just not tenable.

Independence comes closer with every inch that the UK Government pushes this and every way in which it pushes it.

“We had [No-Deal Minister] Michael Gove saying today in an interview that the people of Northern Ireland would get the chance to decide on their own future. He said that without any sense of irony at all.

“But the people of Scotland are not to be allowed that chance. In fact they are to be specifically forbidden the chance to express their view on their own future – that cannot last, just cannot last.”