MICHAEL Russell has told a Tory MSP to hang his head in shame for being an “apologist” for a rotten Brexit deal.

The Constitution Secretary let rip at Tory counterpart Dean Lockhart as the pair clashed in bad-tempered exchanges at Holyrood.

He accused Mr Lockhart of making “ludicrous” arguments and an “utter perversion of the truth”.

He told him: “You are an apologist for an appalling deal that will damage Scottish business and damage Scotland. You should hang your head in shame.”

Mr Russell had been giving evidence on the Westminster legislation which will underpin the new UK-EU trade deal from January 1.

He said the EU (Future Relationship) Bill, which is also being debated in the Commons today, should be rejected by Holyrood this afternoon.

Mr Russell said the deal was “significantly and permanently” worse than being in the EU, and the impact on Scottish fishermen was “utterly shocking”. 

He added SNP ministers had only received a draft version of the Bill on Monday evening, and there was too little time to scrutinise it properly, predicting it would unravel in the coming days like many a UK budget.

Mr Lockhart accused the SNP of making “an extraordinary U-turn” by opposing the only deal on the table, and so becoming the party of a no-deal Brexit by default.

Mr Russell said that was “probably not even worth responding to given the misrepresentation within it”.

He said: “The reality of your question is based on a number of false premises, and I think you really could do better.”

He also challenged Mr Lockhart’s assertion that several commentators had praised the deal.

Mr Lockhart cited the CBI as an example, adding: “I’d rather take their word than yours, cabinet secretary.”

Asked by Mr Lockhart about the SNP opposing recent free trade agreements with non-EU countries such as Japan, Mr Russell said they were continuation arrangements, not new ones.

He said: “We’ve not voted against trade deals. We’ve made it clear there is a far better set of trade deals which we are leaving and leaving behind.

“If I may quote the French Ambassador to the United States who said it was hardly a service to free trade to walk away from the biggest free trade bloc in the world.

“It is an utter perversion of the truth to argue that in some sense, because we are against giving up the benefits, that we... are against trade itself.

“I think that is the third time you’ve put that ludicrous point to me, and it’s the third time which I am glad to call [it] ludicrous.”

Pressed for a Yes or No on whether the SNP had opposed new free trade agreements, Mr Russell said: “I’m not going to give you a Yes or No. All you’re trying to do is to have an unjustifiable argument.

“If you can argue the benefits of this agreement to Scottish fishermen, to the young people who are badly affected, to the businesses that will be suffering, then argue that benefit.

“But if it’s such a great deal why are you so angry at the people who are voting against it?

“Surely you would want to take ownership?

“You know this is an utterly rotten deal. It is an appalling deal. And you are an apologist for an appalling deal that will damage Scottish business and damage Scotland.

"You should hang your head in shame.”

Mr Lockhart said he would follow the advice of leading business organisations instead.

  cabinet secretar