GREENS have urged their SNP allies to reject Boris Johnson's vision of free ports amid EU warnings of crime risks

The Scottish Government last week said it would be "happy" to discuss UK proposals for tax-and regulation-light zones in Scotland.

Several MPs, including at least one in the SNP, have mooted such free ports in their constituencies in a bid to lure jobs and business.

Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Free ports are state-sponsored tax dodging and have no place in a progressive Scotland.

"This plan is clearly part of the UK Government’s deregulated race to the bottom after Brexit, and carry an increased risk of money laundering and all sorts of other illegal activity.

"It is shocking that the Scottish Government would even consider endorsing such a thing."

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The SNP has not endorsed free ports but has said it would talk about them. Mr Johnson's plans are at a yearly stage. Potential free ports have been suggested for Aberdeen, Peterhead, Prestwick Airport and Rosyth.

Mr Harvie was speaking after launching a Scottish Green New Deal, a vision for recalibrating the economy to make it fairer and less carbon dependent.

He said: “The SNP’s Growth Commission report may have explored a deregulated, free-market route to independence, but the whole point of independence is to break with that failed economic model and create a modern progressive country that can improve people’s lives.

“The country needs a Scottish Green New Deal, not further capitulation to crony capitalism.”

A Scottish Government spokesman last week said: “We are clear that the best way to maintain tariff-free access to our most important market is to stay in the European Union.

“The Scottish Government is happy to discuss any potential plans for Free Ports.

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"However, this cannot be properly considered until the details of Brexit are known and the UK Government clearly indicates the criteria that would be permitted for any possible free port model.”

Mr Johnson has not fleshed out details for free ports, or outlined how, if at all, he would prevent tax avoidance and money-laundering issues that have made such regimes a "red flag" elsewhere.

European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova easrlier said free ports were “the new emerging threat”, adding: “This is something we want to focus more on.”

Mr Johnson’s free port policy has come to symbolise widespread fears within EU states that the UK could become a greater centre of offshore finance and money-laundering after Brexit.

Steve Goodrich, Research Manager at Transparency International UK, told The Herald: “It’s well known that without proper protections in place, free ports are a major money laundering threat.

"Failing to monitor and inspect the flow of goods passing through them effectively turns these zones into onshore secrecy havens, and magnets for dirty money and illicit assets.

"Any free port established in the UK should have robust checks and full transparency over goods going in and out to ensure they do not become safety deposit boxes for criminals and the corrupt to stash their ill-gotten gains.”

Free ports vary from place to place. Usually, they involve factories that can make things from goods on which full taxes or tariffs have not been paid. Advocates say they can help transfer activity, especially to areas where the economy is struggling, such as in northern England.

Professor John Tomaney, of University College London, told The New Statesman: “Freeports have become an article of faith for some advocates of ‘Global

Britain’, but the evidence that they would contribute to economic development in northern England is very far from convincing."

A Tory minister earlier this month claimed Peterhead would make an “ideal’ free port. Colin Clark, the Scottish Office minister, said the struggling fishing town was in a “very strong position” to get special tax-haven status.

According to The Press and Journal, he said: “It is ideal for the fishing industry, the processing side, as well as oil and gas, which is now going in the direction of renewables.

“We are at the very early stages with regards to the free port idea for Peterhead. It is for the port itself to apply and present their best business case."