There is a “real possibility” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could secure a Brexit deal by allowing Northern Ireland to stay in the single market, according to a senior SNP MP who spearheaded legal action against him.
Speaking at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, Joanna Cherry suggested that the Conservatives could be prepared to “lose” Northern Ireland in order to secure an agreement ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU on October 31.
And Ms Cherry warned against the damage of any form of Brexit to Scotland.
“Any form of Brexit would be damaging to Scotland’s economy, to our society and to our culture,” said Ms Cherry.
“We need also to remember at all times that Brexit is not what Scotland voted for.
“The talks that are taking place at the moment between Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar, and with Michel Barnier’s involvement, I believe that those are serious talks.
“And I think there’s still a real possibility that Boris Johnson may get a deal by agreeing to let Northern Ireland stay in the customs union and very close to the single market, while the rest of the UK – Scotland, England and Wales – will get a very hard Brexit indeed.
“I’m afraid because Boris Johnson has talked up a no-deal so much that many MPs for English and Welsh constituencies will consider any deal as unequivocally good news.
“I think there’s a very real possibility that Boris Johnson might yet reunite most of the Tories around a deal and unfortunately get enough Labour MPs behind a deal to deliver a deal.”
Ms Cherry continued: “It’s important for us to remember that any Brexit is damaging to Scotland and the Brexit that Boris Johnson will deliver if he gets that deal will be the hardest of Brexits imaginable and it will lead to no freedom of movement in Scotland, no frictionless trade, lack of funds for regional development and cooperation on research and lack of working together on global challenges such as climate change on which our Scottish Government has lead so far.
“So it’s very critical to understand that Boris Johnson’s deal would be damaging to Scotland and more damaging in fact than Theresa May’s would have been.”
Ms Cherry added: “I think there is a reasonable possibility that Boris Johnson is going to come to a deal which will involve Northern Ireland staying in the customs union, very close to the single market, but a hard Brexit for the rest of the United Kingdom.
“I think the DUP may not support that, but the Tories may be prepared to lose Northern Ireland effectively to get the hard Brexit that they want, and they may pull across enough Labour MPs….to support a deal.”
SNP MEP Alyn Smith also stated his belief that the Prime Minister is trying to secure a Brexit deal.
Mr Johnson had previously stated that the UK would leave on October 31 “come what may”.
Mr Smyth said: “I think Mr Johnson is going to try to get a deal done, he says he wants a deal, I actually believe him, he wants to deliver something called Brexit, he want to pretend it has been a success.”