THE SCOTTISH Government has drawn up Brexit contingency plans to safeguard medical supplies and protect businesses from the threat of tariffs and border disruption.

Despite just five weeks until the Brexit transition period expires, talks between the UK Government and the European Union are continuing – but fears have been raised over an agreement becoming less likely.

The Scottish Government has warned that even if a last-minute Brexit deal is resurrected, the country will still leave the Single Market and Customs Union - claiming this will do "unnecessary damage at the worst possible time” to the Scottish economy.

Scottish Ministers have raised concerns over the possible introduction of tariffs on goods, shortages of medical supplies and disruption to imports and experts amid new border and customs controls.

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The Scottish Government’s resilience room, SGORR, the equivalent of the UK Government’s COBRA, will be activated next month to coordinate the response to issues arising following the transition period expiring.

Modelling by the Scottish Government estimates that the country’s GDP could be 6.1 per cent lower by 2030 compared to EU membership while a no-deal scenario could see GDP reduce by 8.5 per cent.

Collaboration with UK administrations will take place in an attempt to ensure patients receive the medicines they require – while businesses at risk of struggling with cash flow will be supported by ministers working with banks through the Banking and Economy Forum.

£30 million of funding has been made available to local councils to help mitigate financial hardship over the winter including free school meals being extended during school holidays.

The Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland are holding talks with universities and colleges to ensure they can access the workforce they need once the transition period has expired.

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Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said: “It is beyond belief that, in the midst of a global pandemic, Scotland is just five weeks away from being removed from the EU Single Market and Customs Union against its will by the UK Government.

“Whatever the outcome of the current negotiations between the UK and the EU we know Scotland’s economy and its communities are facing unnecessary damage at the worst possible time.”

He added: “The Scottish Government will continue to do everything we can to mitigate against the consequences of the UK Government’s reckless actions to support, as much as we can, our economy, health services and vulnerable communities.

“We will continue that work throughout the transition period and beyond, but the stark truth is that we simply cannot avert every negative outcome and our view is clear that the best future for Scotland is to become an independent country.

“Only by becoming independent can Scotland look forward to once again becoming an equal partner in the EU and take advantage of all the benefits that membership brings.”