NICOLA Sturgeon has said she is "deeply frustrated and depressed" by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit as she warned disruption at the end of the year is now "inescapable". 

The First Minister said the country doesn't need "another big thing to be dealing with" when the focus should be on coronavirus

She said it was "beyond belief that in the midst of a global pandemic and deep recession the Prime Minister is telling Scotland to get ready for a disastrous no-deal Brexit".

Ms Sturgeon said her own independence plans were put on hold to deal with the pandemic, and the UK Government should have taken the same approach to Brexit. 

It comes after Boris Johnson said that unless there is a "fundamental change of approach" from the EU, Britain is prepared to move to trading on World Trade Organisation rules when the Brexit transition period ends.

The Prime Minister said this week's EU summit in Brussels has made clear the EU is not prepared to offer the kind of Canada-style deal the UK is seeking.

In a statement, Ms Sturgeon said: “With less than three months until the end of the transition period, businesses and people across Scotland will be in despair at this extraordinary statement.

“At best this is reckless brinkmanship. At worst it means the UK Government is now actively pursuing a no-deal outcome.

“The reality is Scotland’s economy is going to be damaged by a further needless hit to jobs at the worst possible time, with either a thin trade deal or no deal now the only possible outcomes.

“A completely unnecessary Brexit shock will hit many businesses already struggling with the Covid-19 crisis.

“A no-deal outcome would be particularly disastrous. Scotland could see heavy tariffs on goods, which for some sectors would be crippling.

“Because of the hard-line Brexit position adopted by the UK Government any outcome is going to be damaging, but a no-deal will mean the biggest hit to jobs. The Prime Minister must withdraw his threat to force the hardest possible Brexit on Scotland.

“The Scottish Government view is clear – the best future for Scotland is to become an independent country.”

Speaking at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing earlier, Ms Sturgeon said: "I feel deeply frustrated and depressed at the prospect of no deal at the end of the transition period in December. 

"That said, we've got to be realistic. Any deal that is struck right now will be such a bare minimum deal that there is going to be disruption at the end of this year. I think that is now inescapable."

The First Minister said she found it "very, very frustrating" that at a time when the focus should be on coronavirus, ministers are having to think about the potentially huge implications of Brexit. 

She said: "We will do everything we can to deal with the implications of that, but make no mistake: resources are finite. 

"And every civil servant, or every hour of my time that has to be spent now thinking about the implications of a no-deal Brexit, or a bare minimum-deal Brexit, is a civil servant or an hour of my time that is not focused as it should be on trying to steer the country through the Covid pandemic. 

"I feel deeply depressed about the Brexit situation, and I think that's particularly because it is avoidable."

Ms Sturgeon said her own planning for "constitutional matters" was put on hold due to the pandemic, and the UK Government could have asked for a Brexit extension. 

She said: "They didn't do that, and that is a matter of real frustration and depression.

"And that's not just because I'm an opponent of Brexit – everybody knows that – but it is because we don't need another big thing to be dealing with when all of us should be focusing on the Covid priority that lies ahead of us."