Some of Scotland’s leading thinkers have warned a failure by the political class to speak out against Brexit is send the country hurtling towards a “cliff edge”.

The lack of a strong political voice for supporters of remaining in the European Union is leaving the UK heading for a hard Brexit "cliff edge", according to leading academics and experts.

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A new report analysing the draft Brexit agreement published by the European Commission last month warns that the 27 EU member countries are "looking on in disbelief" at the "self-imposed damage" the UK Government is pursuing.

The report from the Scottish Centre on European Relations features a series of contributions from leading academics at Scottish Universities who claim the upside to Brexit is largely illusory, and any agreement in line with the UK's red lines on freedom of movement, migration and denying a role to the European Court of Justice is incompatible with maintaining the current trade benefits of EU membership.

However they say unless there is significant political change in the UK "the cliff edge looms".

The think tank has published a new report bringing together analysis of the forthcoming challenges as the process of exiting the EU unfolds. It highlights the movement of EU and UK citizens, trade arrangements, the Irish border question and environmental protections as key areas where convincing agreement has yet to be reached.

UK politics is failing because of "passive and fearful" opposition to leaving the European Union (EU), according to a new report.

Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER), said the UK was heading for a "damaging" hard Brexit because Remain voters had been left with little strong representation.

Writing in the report, Ms Hughes said: "As the process unfolds, the UK - and particularly England - has remained deeply divided over the question of proceeding with Brexit.

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"Support for 'remain' has moved a little ahead in the polls over the last several months but not strongly enough for many passive and fearful politicians to come out and argue to halt Brexit or to hold a further EU referendum."

She highlighted that while the Liberal Democrats and English and Welsh Greens support a referendum on the final deal, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has not gone so far, despite declaring it could become irresistible.

"Labour's acceptance of Brexit has led to weak opposition to the slow, shambolic and damaging Brexit process, with Jeremy Corbyn mostly preferring to lead on domestic issues at Prime Minister's questions each week," she added.

"Labour has now come out in support of staying in a customs union with the EU, but while it doesn't support staying in the EU's single market, it is not in a strong position to challenge Theresa May and her government over the economic damage a free trade deal will do.

"Consequently, the 48% who voted 'remain' (or the 52% who now support 'remain' in several polls) have little political voice or representation as the UK heads towards a major and damaging political, constitutional, economic and institutional upheaval that has little precedent.

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"This is true even in the two parts of the UK that voted 'remain' - Scotland and Northern Ireland. "

The report pulls together analysis from 15 experts and commentators from Scotland, Northern Ireland and the EU, who raise a range of issues about the Brexit process, including the prospect of a "cliff-edge" exit, concerns over citizens' human rights, the problem of the Irish border and the challenges for devolution.

Ms Hughes said: "The path from here to an autumn withdrawal agreement is highly uncertain.

"Our new report makes clear the UK is on a path to a damaging, hard Brexit.

"And without a deal on the Irish border, the divorce deal could fall apart - and the transition deal with it - a cliff edge still looms.

"As trade talks start, unprecedented in putting new trade barriers in place, the UK could still change its mind and call a further EU referendum - Labour and the SNP for now are refusing to support this.

"UK politics is failing as it sticks to a passive 'wait and see' mode of opposition. And the time to halt Brexit, or even push it to a 'softer' Brexit, is running out."