Nicola Sturgeon has said the new Brexit deal showed it was time for Scotland to “chart our own future as an independent, European nation”.
Reacting to the news that a Brexit deal had been reached, the First Minister said: “Scotland did not vote for any of this and our position is clearer than ever.
“Scotland now has the right to choose its own future as an independent country and once more regain the benefits of EU membership.”
She continued: “It beggars belief that in the midst of a pandemic and economic recession Scotland has been forced out of the EU Single Market and Customs Union with all the damage to jobs that will bring.
“A deal is better than no deal. But, just because, at the 11th hour, the UK Government has decided to abandon the idea of a no-deal outcome, it should not distract from the fact that they have chosen a hard Brexit, stripping away so many of the benefits of EU membership.
“And while we do not yet have full details on the nature of the deal, it appears major promises made by the UK Government on fisheries have been broken and the extent of these broken promises will become apparent to all very soon.
“People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, but their views have been ignored.
“This is a far harder Brexit than could have been imagined when the EU referendum took place, damaging and disrupting this nation’s economy and society at the worst possible time.
“We are doing everything we can to mitigate against the consequences of the UK Government’s actions – but we cannot avert every negative outcome.
“We know that businesses are already struggling under the burden of Covid-19, and are now faced with the need to prepare for this hard Brexit in little more than a week’s time. We will do all we can to help them and are issuing updated information and advice and urge those most affected, including businesses, to prepare.”
A deal was agreed between the UK Government and the EU on Christmas Eve, just a week away from the final deadline.
A Downing Street source insisted that “everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal”.
They added: “We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters.
“The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU.
“The deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668 billion in 2019.”
However, Scottish political leaders disputed the claims, with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard saying “Boris Johnson’s irresponsible brinksmanship and his gross mismanagement of this process” had caused massive economic uncertainty.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie echoed the sentiments, saying: “Boris Johnson has already caused huge damage by playing games of brinkmanship right up to seven days before the end of the transition period.
“There will now be some sense of relief that the dangerous prospect of crashing out with no deal has been averted. However, there is now no time for anything but the most cursory scrutiny in either Parliament.
“The country is being given a take-it-or-leave-it deal, but we won’t be able to debate the detail, and the one thing we know is that the cost of Brexit remains high.
“As well as the financial hit, the legacy of the UK Government’s reckless approach will live on, in the broken relationships with European partners, in the lowering of workers’ rights, standards and protections, and in the hearts of people in Northern Ireland and Scotland, who are badly let down by a Brexit they didn’t vote for.”
However, Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross praised the deal – specifically noting that fishing communities “will be far better off” within Scotland.
Mr Ross said: “This deal has been secured as a result of the hard work and commitment of the UK and European negotiating teams.
“Both sides recognised the importance of reaching agreement on a range of complex issues and avoiding a damaging no-deal outcome. To have done so just in time for Christmas is great news.
“Crucially, this will protect Scottish jobs and our fishing communities will be far better off outwith the hated Common Fisheries Policy.
“It is vital that we now move on from past divisions and focus entirely on working together to fight coronavirus and rebuild Scotland’s economy.”
While Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK’s deal with the EU is great news for Scotland’s businesses. There are huge opportunities ahead – not just with this exceptional access to the EU market, but also in new markets right around the world.
“We have an agreement on fisheries which will ensure that our fishermen, and our coastal communities, will flourish outside of the EU’s unfair Common Fisheries Policy. The UK will once more be a sovereign coastal state.
“The deal protects famous Scottish products such as whisky, Arbroath Smokies and Orkney cheddar.
“People in Scotland will benefit from a wide range of social security and healthcare rights while travelling, working and living in the EU.”