FINANCE Secretary Derek Mackay has again warned of the risks of Brexit as the Scottish economy returned to growth.

Latest figures showed GDP rose by 0.3% in the period July to September – after shrinking by 0.2% in the previous three months.

Scotland matched the UK's economic growth rate for the third quarter of 2019.

Over the year, GDP in Scotland has increased by 0.7% - less than the 1% growth in the UK as a whole.

The latest statistics mean Scotland has escaped falling into recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.

The report published with the GDP figures said: "In the last two quarters, a large amount of the change in GDP was linked to stockpiling and running down stockpiles around the UK's original planned Brexit deadline in March 2019 as it was moved to the subsequent October 2019 deadline."

Mackay said the pace of economic growth had slowed as a result of the "continued uncertainty around Brexit".

As the Scottish Government continues to push for a second independence referendum, he insisted that Scotland had "the right to determine their own future free from Brexit as an independent member of the European Union".

The Finance Secretary spoke after the data showed Scotland's agriculture, forestry and fishing sector enjoyed growth of 1.3% for July to September – the highest growth rate of any part of the economy over the period.

The production sector grew by 0.9%, while the services sector – which makes up about three-quarters of the Scottish economy – was up by 0.2%.

Mackay said: "While it is good news the economy has grown in the last quarter, it is unsurprising the overall pace of growth has slowed as a result of the continued uncertainty around Brexit.

"Scotland has a strong economic foundation with a lower unemployment rate than the UK and we will continue to do all we can to stimulate growth, jobs and investment, and help build economic resilience. However, Brexit remains the biggest threat to our economy.

"Just this week the Prime Minister has put the risk of a No-Deal Brexit back on the table by ruling out any extension to the transition period. This would be catastrophic for Scotland's economy.

"Scotland did not vote for Brexit and the people of Scotland have the right to determine their own future free from Brexit as an independent member of the European Union."

He also stressed the Scottish Government was "focused on delivering a stronger economy", including plans to renew the economic action plan early in the new year.