SCOTLAND'S interests must be protected from a "destructive and damaging hard Brexit", Mike Russell has warned.

The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution claimed that the UK Government was "hell-bent" on forcing a hard Brexit on Scotland.

Mr Russell has called for close alignment between Scotland and the EU but the UK Government has made clear that it will not commit to aligning with EU standards or accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

A new Continuity Bill will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament soon which would make it easier to align with future EU standards in areas such as the environment and human rights.

The last attempt at a continuity bill was over-ridden by the EU Withdrawal Act being passed in Westminster, with the Scottish Parliament bill rendered meaningless.

Mr Russell branded the UK Government’s stance on a post-Brexit trade deal as a “damaging, dangerous and isolationist path”.

Mr Russell added: “The UK Government is determined to pursue a destructive and damaging hard Brexit. 

"As of today, devolved Ministers have been given no chance to even look at its negotiating mandate, let alone influence it.

“We will, of course, continue trying to protect Scotland’s interests. But unless something fundamental changes, the UK intends to inflict the hardest of Brexits on us, rather than negotiating with us.

READ MORE: Mike Russell: UK ignoring Scotland ‘more than ever’ on Brexit

“We must stand up for ourselves to stop that happening.”

Mr Russell also criticised the UK Government's immigration proposals, which he called “stringent and ridiculous” that will lead to a “fall in Scotland’s population”.

He added that the Scottish Government has "made a series of sensible proposals on immigration" for a "devolved immigration system". But the UK Government said the new points-based immigration system will be in force across all parts of the UK.