THERESA May is set to bring in a second Brexit minister to Cabinet specifically to prepare for a “no deal” outcome, prompting fears her government is not serious about securing a trade deal.

The Prime Minister continues to shuffle her top team today, with one newspaper yesterday reporting that the “no deal” Brexit minister role would go to Steve Baker, currently number two to David Davis in the Department for Exiting the EU.

It is understood Baker, or whoever is confirmed as the new minister, will provide regular updates on preparations for leaving the EU without a trade deal. He or she will attend Cabinet meetings and control a significant budge but will not be a secretary of state.

Responding to reports about the new role, Alasdair Allan, the Scottish Government minister for international development and Europe, tweeted: “Good grief. The UK now has a ‘No Deal Brexit Minister’. A Minister for economic decline and world irrelevance.”

EU expert Kirsty Hughes tweeted: “Cabinet minister for no deal Brexit? Is this a new way of telling EU UK govt not serious on phase 1 deal?”

Nicola Sturgeon said she read the newspaper report on the appointment of a “no deal” Brexit minister “in despair”.

“It seems to give the impression that the UK Government think this is some kind of game, that Theresa May is more concerned with appeasing the hardline Tory Brexiteers than she is about acting in the best interests of the country,” she said. “No deal is unthinkable. Let me be absolutely clear: no Brexit is preferable to no deal.”

The First Minister warned leaving the EU without a deal would have devastating consequences for the economy.

She said the prospect of a “no deal” minister being appointed to May’s Cabinet “beggars belief”.

“The UK Government appears to be intent on pursuing not just Brexit but at times it appears they are intent on pursuing a very hard and extreme Brexit, so my priority, my job, my focus, has to be to make sure that we do everything possible to protect Scotland’s best interests.

“If Brexit is going to happen then in my view the priority is that we remain within the European single market and customs union, because that is the least damaging outcome in terms of jobs and the economy.”

The appointment will be seen as an attempt by May to gain support from hardline Brexiteers in her party as she heads towards trade talks with EU leaders later this year.

A eurosceptic MP told The Daily Telegraph the appointment would be a “the test for the right [of the party] about whether or not the government actually does mean that Brexit means Brexit”.

As the National went to press last night, no confirmation about the post had been given by the UK Government.

Commenting on the wider reshuffle, Stephen Gethins, the SNP international spokesman at Westminster, said: “Today’s shambolic on-going Cabinet reshuffle has confirmed that Theresa May is a prisoner to the Brexit hardliners who now hold the power in the government, and cannot be moved.

“They are calling the tune. The truth is that this prime minister cannot make a move without upsetting one faction or another of her party – and her authority since her disastrous election is being diminished day by day.

“This has created a revolving-door government in which we have had six justice secretaries in seven years, four immigration ministers in as many years and the shortest serving party chairman in history – congratulated on his appointment by the party and then removed within half an hour.”

Gethins was referencing the blunder that saw Chris Grayling named as the Tory party’s new chairman on its official Twitter account, only for a correction to appear 15 minutes later confirming Brandon Lewis would in fact be taking on the role.

He added: “The PM should be focused on saving jobs and the economy from the Brexit disaster.”