NEARLY 90 per cent of business owners in Scotland do not trust the UK government to secure the best Brexit deal, an influential think-tank has found.

A similar number said they would vote Remain if a second referendum on EU membership was held.

Nearly 79 per cent said they wanted a fresh In-Out vote on Europe after the terms of the Brexit deal becomes clear.

The think-tank Business for Scotland (BFS) surveyed 758 businesses owners and directors across the political spectrum in Scotland.

Business for Scotland chief executive Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said the report showed mass discontent in the Scottish business community with the UK Government's Brexit plans.

He said: "Even we were surprised just how strong the feelings were on key issues such as a second referendum and how strong business support in Scotland was for remaining in the EU."

SNP MSP Ivan McKee said the findings showed the extreme levels of concern among businesses about the consequences of Brexit.

McKee said: "This report lays bare the huge anxiety among Scottish business at the prospect of an extreme Tory Brexit outside the single market.

“Ripping Scotland out of Europe against its will threatens to do untold damage to our economy, hitting jobs, investment and living standards.

“In the face of that unprecedented threat, it is vital we do everything possible to retain our place in the single market, and if those efforts are rebuffed then independence will appear an ever more appealing prospect to Scottish businesses.”

The research highlights concerns from firms employing EU nationals and those who either import or export directly to the EU.

Some 88.77 per cent said they did not trust the UK Government to secure the best deal for the UK. Just 8 per cent said they trusted May's government, with the remaining 4 per cent saying they were unsure.

There are 45.77 per cent who believe the UK Government will fail to secure a deal of any kind. Only 19.18 per cent thought the UK would be able to secure a trade deal at all.

But 77.98 per cent said they believed Brexit talks would be more productive with direct involvement and representation of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolved administrations.

The combined number of employees of the firms the respondents represent was 199,000, including 11,000 EU nationals.

A total of 41 per cent of all respondent had at least one non-UK born EU national on their staff.

All firms with more than 50 employees stated they had at least one non-UK born EU member of staff.

The findings come just days after Theresa May suffered suffered her first Commons defeat as Prime Minister.

MPs backed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, giving them a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with Brussels.

Business owners, who completed the survey anonymously, uses words such as “shambles”, “shambolic” and “disgust” over the UK Government's handling of Brexit.

A director of one FTSE 100 company said: “When the virtually inevitable car crash happens, the Scottish end of the business will most probably be moved to Europe which is a crying shame as the expertise at home is unsurpassed in our market segment. However with no likelihood of stability it will be a logical step to move."

A director of a UK bank simply said: “Absolute bloody shambles.” A senior manager of a global organisation with 800 employees in Scotland and 80,000 world wide said: “Appalling incompetence and condescending to the devolved administrations.”

An owner of a major hotel and leisure group said: “We need to retain our current EU labour base and allow additional EU nationals to join us.”

Ross Greer MSP, Europe spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said Brexit was already causing economic chaos.

Greer said: "What little authority Theresa May's shambolic government had is long gone, so it's no surprise that Scottish businesses have no confidence in the Tories securing a deal which limits the damage of Brexit.

"Projections commissioned by the Scottish Parliament show an expected eighty thousand lost jobs, two thousand pounds drop in average wages and billions wiped off the economy as a result of this Tory Hard Brexit.

"Many small and medium sized Scottish businesses in particular simply won't be able to survive that. But with a government so weak this can be avoided."

A spokeswoman from the UK Government's Brexit department declined to comment on the survey.