Russell in Brussels claims he's talking to Spain about Brexit

At an event yesterday, the Scottish Government's Brexit minister was asked if he had already been in contact with the Spanish about his plans for a separate Scottish deal on Brexit. 

The Spanish Government has already registered its opposition to a separate Scottish deal on Brexit.

However, Mr Russell replied: "I am not going to reveal everybody's conversations, but I think you can take it that as intelligent people we would not be talking in these terms unless we were having conversations."

Mr Russell's comments were made yesterday to an audience of EU officials and diplomats but were not reported. 

Bizarrely, he also claimed to the audience that "five million" citizens in Scotland voted to Remain.

However, the Scottish Conservatives recorded the full proceedings, and are making the tape available today.

Mr Russell also incorrectly claimed to the audience that - apart from four Scottish Conservative MSPs - nobody in the Scottish Parliament supported Brexit.

This is despite the fact that SNP MSP Alex Neil has said he voted to leave the European Union, while Jim Sillars has also claimed that as many as six SNP MSPs also voted to leave, but have been told not to speak out.

Expanding on his plans to spell out a "differentiated deal" for Scotland, Mr Russell also declared that a separate EEA/EFTA deal for Scotland was "not ruled out". 

Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan said:

"In front of a sympathetic audience in Brussels, it appears Mike Russell has gone on a flight of fancy.

"Now he's back home, he needs to explain himself as a matter of urgency.

"Has he been holding discussions with the Spanish Government on a separate Scottish deal on Brexit, as he suggested at this meeting? If so, what is the nature of those discussions?

"He also needs to correct the record. He claimed that five million Scots voted to remain in the EU, which is clearly nonsense when the correct figure is 1.6 million.

"We know that SNP MSP Alex Neil supported Brexit and that as many as six other SNP MSPs did likewise.

"Yet Mr Russell has gone to Brussels and tried to paint a completely false picture.

"As is typical of the SNP, when they think they can get away with telling complete untruths, they will always do so.

"Mr Russell also claims that a so-called Norway deal is 'on the table' - despite the fact that Norway's own trade minister has ruled it out.

"The SNP is using Brexit to drive forward its unwanted case for independence. Mr Russell's day-trip to Brussels has once again shown that this is a government which cannot be trusted to represent all of Scotland."