'Two-faced' SNP MP accused of misleading Scots after suggesting EU is their main market
Stewart Hosie came under fire following a car-crash radio interview in which he claimed “most exports” go to the bloc as the UK is currently a member.
Scottish goods and services sold to the rest of the UK are worth £48.5billion, four times the level of trade with the EU.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is exploring ways of keeping Scotland in the single market following June’s Brexit vote.
The SNP leader has threatened to call a second referendum to prevent the country “being driven off a hard Brexit cliff edge”.
She is also considering a “Norway-style” relationship with membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
But experts have warned have such a bespoke deal for Scotland or independence could lead to a hard border with England, damaging trade.
Mr Hosie, the SNP’s economy spokesman at Westminster, yesterday insisted leaving the EU posed an “extremely dangerous” threat to business.
On the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio show, Mr Hosie was asked by host Gary Robertson: “But that’s your plan, isn’t it? To take Scotland out of its main market?”
The Dundee East MP replied: “No, we want to remain in the European Union, Gary.”
Pressed further he added: “Well, most of Scotland’s exports go to countries which are currently in the EU. That includes England for the time being.”
Figures from the impartial Scottish Parliament Information Centre show Scotland’s exports to the EU fell by 8.5 per cent from 2013 to £11.56billion last year.
Opposition parties ridiculed Mr Hosie’s comments as “two faced spin”.
Scottish Tory economy spokesman Dean Lockhart MSP said: “Stewart Hosie’s attempts to dodge the issue here are laughable, the fact is that Scotland exports over four times as much to the rest of the UK than it does to the EU.
“To try and claim otherwise is simply misleading, and this ridiculous attempt to dodge the truth shows just how much of a mess the SNP are in when it comes to their plans for independence.”
Scottish Labour Westminster spokesman Ian Murray MP added: “It is completely two-faced for Stewart Hosie to preach the importance of the EU market while ignoring one four times as important – the UK single market.
“It’s clear that the SNP’s obsession with independence trumps jobs and the Scottish economy.”
But Mr Hosie later insisted: “The largest single market for Scottish exports is the EU.
“The Labour party have some cheek complaining about the consequences of Brexit given the wholly pathetic campaign they fought to keep the UK inside the EU.
“We want Scottish exporters to have a global view and it is incredibly sad that Labour’s sole Scottish MP can’t see further than London.”
The row comes just days after SNP Brexit Minister Mike Russell was criticised for telling EU officials five million Scots voted Remain and among Holyrood politicians, only four Tory MSPs backed Leave.
In fact 1,661,191 Scots voted to stay in the EU and it has since emerged that Leave voters included Conservative, Labour – and even Nationalist MSPs.
The Spanish government also denied suggestions they they had held talks with the SNP over a special EU deal for Scotland.