Scotland's Brexit secretary has urged the UK government to rule out a no deal Brexit, arguing that it would be deeply damaging and disruptive. Michael Russell was speaking ahead of a major speech by his UK government counterpart Dominic Raab.
Mr Raab will set out the government's planning for the possibility of leaving the EU without an agreement. The UK government is also expected to publish the first of a series of papers aimed at preparing for the scenario.
The 70 technical notices, which will be published in batches between Thursday and the end of September, will include advice for businesses, citizens and public bodies.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, and the two sides are currently negotiating the terms of its exit and its future relations in a whole range of issues.
Fundamental differences remain as they enter the crucial phase of talks, and recent weeks have seen an increasing focus on the possibility of no deal being reached.
The UK has insisted that no deal is better than a bad deal, with government ministers dismissing fears of shortages and queues of lorries at ports.
In his speech on Thursday morning, Mr Raab will insist that he remains confident of striking a strong deal that benefits both sides. But he will pledge that the government will ensure the smooth, continued, functioning of the UK economy if that does not happen, and that it will take unilateral action to maintain continuity if negotiations breakdown.
Mr Raab will say: We must be ready to consider the alternative. We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality. These technical notices - and the ones that will follow - are a sensible, measured and proportionate approach to minimizing the impact of no deal on British firms, citizens, charities and public bodies.
Ahead of the speech, Mr Russell urged Mr Raab to immediately rule out the possibility of leaving the EU without striking a deal, and repeated his calls for the UK to remain in the single market after Brexit.
He said: A no deal Brexit would be deeply damaging and disruptive for Scotland, the rest of the UK and the EU. Indeed, it has been described as a cliff-edge scenario by the European Commission.
It is therefore time for the UK government to immediately rule it out and accept the Scottish government's strong case, if Brexit goes ahead, for remaining within the European single market and customs union.”