VITAL resources being spent fighting the coronavirus would have to be diverted to prepare for a No-Deal Brexit if Boris Johnson refuses to extend the deadline for key talks, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

The First Minister said it would be “deeply irresponsible and reckless” if the UK Government risked a No-Deal Brexit.

She urged UK ministers to “think again” on previous refusals to extend the current Brexit transition period, which ends on December 31 this year.

As it stands, if no extension is agreed, the UK could be forced to adopt World Trade Organisation rules in its dealing with the European Union from the start of 2021, which is effectively a No-Deal situation. The UK Government has until the end of this month to apply for an extension.

Speaking at the daily press briefing yesterday, the First Minister said: “If you take the Scottish Government, we are, as I think absolutely everybody would expect, focused on dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

“But if there is no extension request we are going to have divert resources from that to thinking about and starting to prepare for the consequences again of a No-Deal Brexit.

“I would just appeal to common sense, does anybody seriously think right now that that is a sensible thing to be doing? I don’t and I hope the UK Government comes to its senses.”

As it stands, she claimed Johnson’s Government is “ploughing ahead” with Brexit plans which have a “very high-risk potential of effectively a No-Deal Brexit at the end of this year, regardless of everything else we’re dealing with just now”.

She insisted: “I just think that is deeply irresponsible and reckless.”

If the UK has to undergo what would effectively be a No-Deal Brexit at the end of December, after businesses across the country have been shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic, she argued this would “make an already acutely difficult situation economically much much worse”.

She called on the UK Government to do what most people “would probably think is sensible in the midst of a global health crisis that has also become an economic crisis”, saying this was “not to compound and exacerbate that and seek the extension to the transition period”.

The First Minister added: “Whether or not the UK Government is going to so, that you would have to ask them. They certainly appear to be pretty resolute in their refusal to do that, but I hope common sense prevails.”

Her comments came just days after a report by the Social Market Foundation for cross-party campaign group Best for Britain warned of severe economic disruption in Scotland if the UK exits the Brexit transition period without a trade deal .

Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said: “The data is clear – if we exit the transition period without a trade deal, many key sectors and local areas in Scotland will be exposed to a dangerous double whammy of economic hits, particularly in Edinburgh, West Lothian and Falkirk.

“The UK Government should extend the transition period to secure a trade deal at the end of the ongoing negotiations.”

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has warned reopening the NHS must be done “carefully and cautiously” while acknowledging it must not return to pre-lockdown “normal”.

She told MSPs the NHS “will remain on an emergency footing” for the next 100 days as the Government slowly works to reopen healthcare services.

During that time, the NHS will have to resume “as many of its normal services as possible” if it is safe to do so while retaining the capacity to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the start of a debate about the NHS’s next steps, Freeman said it would also have to start preparing for the winter season, including “replenishing stockpiles and readying services”.

She added areas of the NHS being prioritised as services to resume include cancer treatment, elective procedures, mental health, pain clinics, dental care, optometry, as well as “planning for the return of screening services”.