NICOLA Sturgeon has demanded “urgent and meaningful” discussion with the Scottish Government on the direction being taken by the UK Government in the talks to leave the European Union.

The First Minister has written to Prime Minister Theresa May, ahead of the meeting today and tomorrow of the ‘Brexit war cabinet’ which will thrash out the UK’s final negotiating position with the EU, to say the Scottish Government must be able to influence the objectives.

She reminded the Prime Minister of a commitment given in 2016 for the “full involvement” of Scotland and the other devolved nations.

The letter follows the leak of a UK Government briefing which warned Brexit would hit economic growth and reports that a customs union with the EU has been ruled out.

The Scottish Government last month published its own analysis predicting that a so-called hard Brexit would leave Scotland’s economy £12.7 billion a year worse off.

In the letter, Sturgeon underlined that Scotland voted to remain in the EU and said that short of EU membership, it was in the best interests of both Scotland and the whole of the UK to remain in the single market and customs union.

She said: “The people of Scotland voted decisively to remain within the European Union, and it is the role of the Scottish Government to make sure that their interests are protected.

“It cannot be right that decisions on the future relationship with the EU are being taken without due regard for consultation across the four governments of the UK in direct contradiction to the terms of reference of the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations).

“Those terms of reference were to ensure a space for reaching agreement on a UK approach to, and objectives for, Article 50 negotiations; and provide oversight of negotiations with the EU, to ensure, as far as possible, that outcomes agreed by all four governments are secured from these negotiations.

“To date the discussions in JMC (EN) have fallen far short of that ambition and of your own commitment when we met in July 2016 to ‘full involvement’.

“I expect that following the meeting of your Cabinet sub-committee there will remain full scope for the Scottish Government, and other devolved administrations, to influence the shape of the UK approach and objectives for negotiations.

“In light of the timetable ahead of the European Council on March 22 2018, there must be urgent and meaningful discussion between us to try to agree a UK position and therefore enable European partners to respond.”

Her intervention comes as Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, will today launch a Scottish Government discussion paper on migration.It will look in detail at the impact of a reduction in migration on both the UK and Scottish economies and will set out what a devolved migration policy for Scotland could look like.

The Scotland in Europe analysis unveiled by the First Minister last month underlined the benefits to Scotland of attracting workers from mainland Europe.

The analysis said EU citizens contribute around £4.4bn a year to the Scottish economy and warned that without them the population would fall, causing grave problems for long-term growth and raising revenue for vital services.