MICHAEL Russell has said voters must have “a say” on the final deal between the UK and the rest of the EU on Brexit.

The SNP’s Constitutional Relations Secretary stopped short of advocating a second EU referendum, but said he was “sympathetic” to the idea, provided it was clear Scotland’s choice would be respected, unlike its Remain vote in 2016.

However he hinted the "say" could come in the form of an independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she intends to tell Holyrood about the timing of any referendum in the autumn.

Mr Russell said there was “no status quo” option available because of Brexit.

He said: “We are in the most extraordinary, the most difficult times that I can certainly remember. They are not being helped by certainly the most incompetent UK government I have ever seen.

"So there needs to be a clear choice. If the choice is Brexit Britain in this chaos and mess or independent membership of the EU, that would be a real choice.”

Mr Russell was speaking as UK cabinet ministers headed to the Prime Minister’s country house at Chequers for a crunch meeting on the UK’s Brexit blueprint.

A series of Eurosceptic ministers are unhappy with the PM’s preferred soft Brexit, which would keep the UK aligned with EU rules on goods and agriculture, making it much harder for the UK to strike its own international trade deals, including with the US.

Mr Russell told BBC Radio Scotland there was a lack of reality about Mrs May’s plan, as it tried to carve up the EU’s four indivisible freedoms of goods, services, people and capital.

That lack of reality would “haunt” the UK when it tried to reach a deal with the other 27 EU nations on the proposal, he said.

Asked whether there should be a second European referendum, he said: “I've been very sympathetic to that, the only caveat I've expressed, and it needs to be resolved, is what happens if that vote were to repeat what happened two years ago - Scotland to vote to stay and the rest of the UK to vote to leave. We couldn't do that twice. So that has to be resolved.

“But I think people do require a say, and we certainly require a say on the final outcome. This is not a second vote, this is a say on the final outcome."

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has warned the SNP not to support LibDem calls for a second EU referendum, as it could set a precedent to re-run a Yes vote on independence.

The LibDems claimed Mr Russell was coming round to their idea of a 'People's Vote' on the Brexit deal.

MSP Tavish Scott said: "It appears the SNP are finally starting to see the light. Mike Russell is right that the British people deserve to have the final say on whether Theresa May’s ropey Brexit deal is good enough.

"He does however need to give up on the constant caveats. This isn’t about political posturing. It’s about warding off economic disaster.

“Political momentum is building for a People’s Vote and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to fight for one. All pro-Europeans need to get on side before it is too late."