A leading European Conservative has dismissed predictions of massive job losses in a post-Brexit world.
Syed Kamall MEP, whose EU party includes the UK Tories, argued that some predictions, claiming Brexit could see Scotland lose 80,000 jobs, were extreme.
He said: “I’m a bit sceptical about these job loss figures.
“Jobs will move, but will it be in the hundreds of thousands or just hundreds?
“What does any business do: prepare for a worst case scenario.”
Mr Kamall added he expected a “couple of years” of a transitional deal after Brexit day.
He said: “The ideal UK scenario is where we leave the single market and I think the deal will have to be a trade deal or the beginnings of one.
“We want the softest Brexit possible within those criteria – not massive arguments all along the way and not necessarily ending up with no deal, because UK-EU exports shouldn’t face a cliff edge.
“We will reach some sort of big picture deal in two years and then carry on with some existing arrangements in other areas for a couple of years.”
With regards to a new relationship with President Trump, Mr Kamall said he thought the UK’s chances of a trade deal with the USA outside the EU were more positive.
He said: “I think Trump has goodwill and, at the moment, wants a trade deal with us.
“He doesn’t want deals with China or Mexico because he thinks that sucks jobs away from America.
“He might look at parts of the EU in the same way, but he is not worried about British people going to America or massively undercutting American trade.”
However, he was dismissive about Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson’s call for an “open Brexit”, prioritising business needs over cutting immigration.
He stated: “The reason we don’t want a Norway-style deal is the issue of sovereignty and also migration — most people want some sort of control on migration.
“The problem is EU citizens have more rights than UK citizens, determined by the European Court of Justice. One anomaly is being able to bring a non-EU spouse into the country.”
Mr Kamall added he would like to see a points-based system, despite the Prime Minister firmly ruling out the option as unworkable.
He said: “I’m personally relaxed about immigration and I think we have had the wrong debate for years in Britain.
“We should be talking about our skills shortages — even if we got all our long-term unemployed back to work, we would still have skills shortages.
“Where we have shortages, we should look at immigration and I would like to see a points system, as it can be flexible.”