THERESA May has insisted she is not aiming for a so-called “hard Brexit” as the pound slumped amid market fears Britain will make a clean break from the European single market and the customs union.

The SNP accused the Prime Minister of “hitting families in the pocket,” saying the uncertainty about the UK Government’s position on Brexit was losing ordinary people money as sterling fell.

Over the weekend, Mrs May gave her clearest indication yet that Britain would not remain in the single market by stressing how some people believed, despite the referendum vote to leave the EU, that somehow the country could “keep bits” of membership of the Brussels bloc. She insisted this was not the case and that the referendum vote meant Britain would forge a “new relationship” with Europe from outside the EU.

Earlier, the pound slumped to its lowest level since October, selling at a cent lower on $1.21 and trading lower against the euro at 1.15.

Asked whether her comments were responsible for the fall in the value of the pound, the PM, answering questions following her keynote speech on social policy in London, said: "I'm tempted to say that the people who are getting it wrong are those who print things saying I am talking about a hard Brexit[and that] it's absolutely inevitable there's a hard Brexit.

"I don't accept the terms hard and soft Brexit. What we are doing is going to get an ambitious, good, best possible deal for the United Kingdom in terms of trading with and operating within the single European market.

"But it will be a new relationship because we won't be members of the EU any longer. We will be outside the European Union and therefore we will be negotiating a new relationship across not just trading but other areas with the European Union," she added.

But Stewart Hosie, the SNP’s economics spokesman, said the threat of a “hard Tory Brexit” was already hitting families in the pocket as the value of the pound continued to plummet six months on from the June 23 poll.

“The blame lies squarely with the UK Government who have failed to outline a clear plan to protect our vital relationship with Europe and secure our place in the world’s largest single market,” declared the Dundee MP.

“All the indications are that the UK is now heading towards a right-wing hard Brexit, which would do huge damage to Scotland’s economy and long-term prosperity, with the potential to cost 80,000 jobs and £11.2 billion a year.”

Mr Hosie added: “Theresa May must start acting in the interests of the country instead of the Tory party by rejecting a hard Brexit and retaining our membership of the single market. It is ordinary families, businesses, and communities across the country that will suffer if the UK Government continues on its current path.”