THERESA May has ruled out any “differential arrangement” for Scotland in the Brexit negotiations, delivering her rejection just hours after Nicola Sturgeon placed a separate Scottish deal at the heart of her own EU strategy.

The Prime Minister’s move was prompted by questioning before MPs from the SNP's Pete Wishart, who said afterwards: "I was surprised and disappointed by her response as she previously charged the Scottish Government to come up with its own proposals and said she would take them seriously."

He added: "For a UK Government that has produced no plans of its own, I'm sure the people of Scotland would expect our proposals to be given full consideration and a positive response."

Read more: First Minister urges Holyrood rivals to support Europe proposals

Mrs May's refusal to accept a separate Scottish deal came ahead of remarks by Kenny MacAskill, the former Scottish Justice Secretary, who today argues the time has come for the First Minister to “unharness” the issue of a second independence referendum from membership of the European Union.

Writing in The Herald, he says: “Independence in the EU may well now be less popular than independence. Many of the most ardent Yes voters were also Leave supporters. Others who were Yes, such as me, and supported Remain, query just where the EU is heading…It no longer looks such a safe haven.”

At Westminster, Mrs May made clear that while she welcomed the Scottish Government’s “contribution to the debate” in its EU options paper, Scotland’s Place in Europe, she also stressed how the UK Government was intent on presenting a “full UK view” as the country began its two-year divorce from the Brussels bloc.

Appearing before the House of Commons Liaison Committee, the PM was asked by Mr Wishart, who chairs the Scottish Affairs Committee, about the prospect of having “differential arrangements” within the UK Government’s Brexit strategy for business sectors as well as the nations of the UK.

She told the Perth MP: “What we will be negotiating is a United Kingdom approach and a United Kingdom relationship with the European Union. You have assumed an acceptance of differential relationships but I don’t think it is right to accept[them].

Read more: First Minister urges Holyrood rivals to support Europe proposals

“I said when I became Prime Minister and first met the First Minister we will look very seriously at any proposals from the devolved administrations but there may be proposals that are impractical.”

Mrs May also made clear she saw "no need" for a second independence referendum, saying Scottish voters had given their view in 2014. She then added: "But I would go further and make this point if Scotland…were to become independent, then not only would it no longer be a member of the EU, it would no longer be a member of the single market of the EU and it would no longer be a member of the single market of the UK, which is worth four times as much to Scotland as the single market of the EU.”

Just three hours earlier at Bute House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon unveiled her options paper, saying it represented a “significant compromise” in relation to the SNP’s desire for full independence.

She claimed the paper, drawn up with the aid of her council of 19 advisors, was a "serious and genuine attempt" to "unify the country around a clear plan".

While the primary option was for the UK as a whole to remain within the European single market and the customs union, the FM said she had to accept, reluctantly, that “as things stand, given the rhetoric of the Conservative Government, that seems an unlikely outcome".

The secondary option was for Scotland to remain in the single market as the rest of the UK left it with new powers over immigration, trade and employment law accruing to Holyrood.

Acknowledging that having a “differentiated option” for Scotland would be challenging, she nonetheless pointed to how there already existed examples of such arrangements across the EU and within the single market.

“It will also be necessary to take a flexible approach in relation to Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. There is no good reason why such flexibility should not also apply to Scotland," argued Ms Sturgeon.

Read more: First Minister urges Holyrood rivals to support Europe proposals

However, a member of her advisory council, Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform think-tank, noted: “Legally, politically, technically, it’s extremely difficult for Scotland to stay in the single market if the UK as a whole does not; the basic point being that there would have to be one set of business regulations applying to England and another set applying to Scotland.

“So that would require the devolution of all business regulation matters to Scotland, which clearly isn’t going to be on the cards in the foreseeable future,” he added.

At Holyrood, Ruth Davidson claimed that while the FM talked about compromise, her options paper showed what she really wanted was independence in Europe.

“If she truly wants the best Brexit deal, she should be pulling together with other parts of the UK, not trying to split the country up,” declared the Scottish Conservative leader.

Kezia Dugdale for Scottish Labour said if Ms Sturgeon sincerely wanted to unite Scotland, then she “should take this opportunity to rule out another independence referendum”.

Willie Rennie for the Scottish Liberal Democrats dismissed the options paper as an “expensive exercise in Christmas window-dressing as the only option the First Minister really wants to succeed is Scottish independence”.

David Watt for the Institute of Directors Scotland welcomed the Scottish Government’s options paper and pointed out how Scotland would have needs and priorities, which differed from other parts of the UK. But he also stressed how England was the nation’s biggest trading partner and added: “We can’t afford in any way to damage the extremely important trading relationship we have with the rest of the UK.”

Professor Andrea Nolan for Universities Scotland welcomed the “pragmatism” of the Scottish Government’s approach and stressed the organisation’s priority was to maintain continued free movement of student and staff talent as well as “access to and influence over European research funds and collaborations”.