BUSINESS leaders have come out against Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a post-Brexit devolved immigration system ahead of a meeting with the First Minister.

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said the time was “not right”, and firms wanted an integrated system for the whole of the UK, not a regional one.

Ms Fairbairn delivered the message ahead of the CBI Annual Dinner in Glasgow on Thursday, which the First Minister is also due to attend as a top table guest.

However Ms Fairbairn did agree with Ms Sturgeon on a No Deal Brexit being a “catastrophe”, and urged businesses leaders to take a stand against it.

She said it would be so damaging it should be “simply not an option”.

However Theresa May and her ministers insist it remains on the table if the Chequers proposal for a soft Brexit is rejected out-of-hand by the other 27 EU nations.

Ms Fairbairn said the CBI, which speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses employing nearly 7m people, would speak out clearly on the “the catastrophic risks of a no-deal exit”.

She is expected to say in her speech: “That’s what it would be for Scotland. A catastrophe. “Delays to just-in-time delivery meaning that Scotland’s food exports would not reach markets in peak condition. Barriers to talent stifling Scotland’s professional services firms.

“Scotland’s status as fintech power put at risk by new regulations on data. No-deal is just not an option. Not for the UK, not for Scotland, and not for the EU.”

Ms Sturgeon has previously said if Scotland is taken out the EU single market and customs union by Brexit, immigration should be devolved to help cope with the impact on EU citizens and workforce shortfalls.

But on immigration, Ms Fairbairn said: “Scotland has a brilliant and talented workforce. But look at the stats, and it’s also a shrinking workforce. Demographics are not in Scotland’s favour.

“Add Brexit uncertainty and a brain-drain to the South East and overseas. And you have a potent mix of problems. The skills shortages are biting. Not in the future, not soon. Right now. So last month the CBI called for a new immigration system. A system that earns public trust while allowing business to attract the people they need.

“A system that’s open but controlled, too. And we are clear it must work for Scotland.

“Some have asked - do we need a devolved solution for Scotland? It’s a fair question.

“But the businesses I’ve spoken to say “not right now”. Let’s get it right for the whole UK.

“The better the outcome we get, the less need for variation across the UK.

And the less companies need worry about doubled up systems and extra red tape.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who will also be attending the dinner, said: “I’m absolutely clear there are no plans to devolve immigration.

“It wasn’t part of the Smith Commission [on more powers], and indeed polling in Scotland suggests the public don’t support the devolving of administration.”

He said the UK government’s announcement today of a pilot scheme for 2500 extra visas for seasonal agricultural workers showed variation was possible within the UK.

Ms Sturgeon’s official spokesman said: “We are clear that there is a weight of evidence that Scotland should be in control of its own immigration policy.

“We have seen today a fairly timid move by the UK Government in terms of seasonal workers for the fruit picking sector.

“I think 2,500 visas for people UK wide doesn't even begin to address the issue facing the UK as whole far less properly address the issues facing Scotland.”