NICOLA Sturgeon has warned Theresa May she lacks the mandate to take Scotland out of the single market, after the Prime Minister refused to say whether she would try to keep the UK in.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister also cautioned MSPs against thinking the impact of June’s vote had been much less catastrophic than predicted.

“Those people who are complacently crowing that the sky has not fallen in on the economy would do well to remember that Brexit has not happened yet – it has not even started,” she said.

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would do what it could to keep the country as a member of the free-trade zone. The SNP leader also reiterated that Scots must be allowed to “consider independence” if it “becomes clear that our interests cannot be protected within the UK”.

To Tory jeers, she continued: “To give up the right to even consider that option would be to accept that we are at the mercy of Westminster decisions no matter how damaging or destructive they are to our economy, our society and our place in the world. That is not a position that anyone with Scotland’s best interests at heart should ever be prepared to accept.”

The Scottish Government was, Sturgeon said, seeking “urgent clarification on how the UK Government will deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment to full involvement for Scotland.”

She added: “Let me be crystal clear about this, and it is a point I have made directly to the UK Government: the Scottish Government will not be window dressing in a talking shop to allow the UK Government to simply tick a box.

“We expect to have, along with the other devolved nations, a role in decision-making, we expect our engagement to be meaningful.”

“I accept that the Prime Minister has a mandate in England and Wales to leave the EU, but I do not accept that she has a mandate to take any part of the UK out of the single market,” she added. “I hope all parties in this chamber will back us as we make that case, and I hope also that we can make common cause with others across the UK.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson asked the First Minister why she was so keen to stay in the EU trading bloc, but was keen to leave the UK, “a bloc that is four times as important in terms of trade”.

The SNP leader pointed out that Tory colleagues of Ruth Davidson had already been to Ireland “saying that Brexit does not mean a border with independent Ireland or barriers to trade”. Sturgeon added: “The Tories cannot say one thing in Ireland and then say the exact opposite here in Scotland.”

Earlier in the day at Prime Minister’s Questions, May refused to say whether she wanted to remain in the single market, telling SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson that she would not be giving a “running commentary” on the government’s negotiations.

Robertson had criticised May’s lack of detail. “The UK Government have had all summer to come up with a plan and a strategy, but so far we have just had waffle," he said. "I want to ask the Prime Minister a simple but important question: does she want the UK to remain fully within the European single market?”

May responded, saying that Scotland’s prosperity was best served in the UK. “We will be ensuring that we seize the opportunities for growth and prosperity across the whole of the United Kingdom, including growth and prosperity in Scotland," she said. "As we saw from the figures released this summer, what really gives growth and prosperity in Scotland is being a member of the United Kingdom.”

Meanwhile, during his LBC radio phone-in, Alex Salmond warned that membership of the free trade zone would affect the timing of the referendum. The former First Minister said he would still want to see a second independence referendum within the next few years, regardless of the UK’s membership status.

He said: “The SNP is a pro-independence party but Nicola Sturgeon has identified that our key priority is to keep Scotland within that single market place. I think she is right to prioritise that.”

Nicola Sturgeon: I am doing everything I can to protect Scotland’s place in and relationship with the EU