THE SNP Government is looking to Norway as a model for keeping Scotland in the EU single market, the First Minister has confirmed, just a day after a cabinet secretary mocked the idea.

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA) models were being considered in case of a hard Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon said she wanted to maintain Scotland’s “membership” of the single market “not some vague access”.

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The EEA comprises the EU nations plus the EFTA states Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

EEA membership means Norway enjoys the same market terms as EU states by paying into the EU budget and agreeing to the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services.

However it does not have a say in making EU regulations, despite having to abide by them.

Only sovereign states are EEA members, suggesting membership implies independence.

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On Tuesday, the BBC reported the SNP was considering the Norway model, but economy secretary Keith Brown downplayed the idea in parliament, scoffing: “I am able to confirm that just because the BBC say that’s the Scottish Government’s position doesn’t make it so.”

However Ms Sturgeon said: “Norway is in EFTA. EFTA countries, apart from Switzerland, are also in the single market through the EEA. So, of course, these are models that we're looking at.”

She said she would publish “an option, or perhaps different options, about how this could be achieved" later this year.

She was also “deeply concerned” by the apparent lack of a UK plan on Brexit, adding: "We are trying to influence a bit of a vacuum at the moment and it's extremely frustrating."

Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “The Scottish Government appears riven by division over its Brexit plan. A separate Norway-style deal is a complete non-starter. On Tuesday, Keith Brown appeared to accept this was the case, but now the First Minister says it’s back on the table.”

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SNP Brexit minister Michael Russell will today fly to Berlin for an economic conference at which he is expected to underline Scotland’s desire to remain in the single market.