Nicola Sturgeon’s stance on Brexit is an “embarrassing mess”, it has been alleged after it emerged she unveiled a report three years ago that strongly warned against her latest plan to keep Scotland in the EU single market.
The First Minister confirmed she is considering a Norway-style model to stay in the single market by pushing for Scotland to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA).
Her admission came the day after Keith Brown, her Economy Minister, distanced himself from the plan and as Alex Salmond contradicted her Brexit Minister by stating SNP MPs could vote with the UK Government on triggering Article 50.
In further evidence of the disarray enveloping the SNP, the Telegraph can disclose the Scottish Government has published an in-depth analysis of the Norway plan that concluded this was not a “desirable option” from an economic or democratic perspective.
Complete with a foreword from Ms Sturgeon, it said the EEA “effectively extends the geographical reach” of the single market to Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway and allows them tariff-free access with complex strings attached.
But it warned that “Scotland’s citizens would lose all ability to influence the laws and regulations to which they would be subject” because EEA members have little input into the single market’s rules.
Critics have coined the phrase “fax democracies” for EEA countries, it said, because “a substantial proportion of their domestic laws appear by fax from Brussels.”
The report also warned this would make Scotland less attractive to foreign investors as “the Scottish Government would lose all influence over the laws and regulations” to which the companies would be bound.
It concluded: “In that scenario it would make more sense for foreign investors to locate in a country that exerted real influence over these laws and regulations.”
The analysis, published by the Scottish Government in November 2013, made the case for an independent Scotland becoming an EU member state if there was a Yes vote in the following year’s referendum.
However, the 105-page document also contained a section titled “Why the alternatives to membership are not attractive” in which it examined the EEA and EFTA.
Ms Sturgeon’s latest proposal is for Scotland to join while part of the UK, rather than as an independent state, but the same rules criticised by the report would apply.