SCOTLAND’S Brexit minister has urged rival parties to “speak with one voice” in a bid to keep the UK in the European single market.

Mike Russell said there was overwhelming support in Holyrood and across the country for “retaining Scotland and the UK’s place in the single market and customs union”.

He spoke out amid continuing political turmoil after talks between the UK Government and the EU stalled earlier this week over the Irish border issue.

Mr Russell said: “It is time for all of us, here in Scotland and across the UK, to speak out at this crucial time for what is in everybody’s interests and reject a hard Brexit.

“It is time for Scotland to speak with one voice, and I encourage all who realise that single market and customs union membership is vital to say so and to work to achieve that.”

He said keeping Britain in the single market would be the way out of the “incredible mess” created by Prime Minister Theresa May.

It is understood the UK Government and the EU had been close to agreeing a deal guaranteeing ''regulatory alignment'' between Northern Ireland and the Republic in order to prevent a hard border after Brexit.

But a dramatic intervention from the Democratic Unionist Party – which props up the minority Conservative Government in Westminster – brought talks to a halt, after it made clear it would not accept any arrangement which saw Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon said any special deal for Northern Ireland would leave “no good practical reason” why other parts of the UK could not follow suit.

And she later insisted the issue could "force a different, less damaging approach" that would keep Britain in the single market and customs union.

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson yesterday called for any regulatory alignment under Brexit to be applied on a UK-wide basis.

She said the country should not be divided by "different deals for different home nations" in the wake of the attempt to settle the Irish border issue.

However, a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said Ms Davidson was “in danger of having close to zero credibility” on Brexit.

He accused the Scottish Conservative leader of “playing silly games” and said her position on leaving the EU was “woolly and ambiguous”.

He said: “She flip-flops on this issue constantly and has done since before the EU referendum.

“She’s held every position under the sun on this. So her comments today should be taken in that context.

“And I’m not even sure what her comments mean. Maybe they’re designed deliberately to be woolly and ambiguous.

“Ruth Davidson is in danger of having close to zero credibility on this issue.

“If she’s got something to say, she should say it unambiguously and clearly. Does she believe Scotland should remain in the single market – yes or no? And stop playing silly games.”

He confirmed Ms Sturgeon had not been in touch directly with Theresa May or any other UK Government minister in the last couple of days, but insisted: “The Scottish Government is engaging with the UK Government constantly.”

Nicola Sturgeon later tweeted: “The Scottish Tories seem more interested in appeasing the DUP than in standing up for Scotland’s best interests.

“Scotland’s interests demand continued single market membership.”

Speaking to MSPs in Holyrood yesterday, Mr Russell accused the UK Government of a “chronic failure to keep everybody informed about what the situation was”.

He added: "If this parliament were to speak with one voice on membership of the single market and the customs union, I think that that would be very effective indeed.”

He also urged new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard to make his position clear.

He said: "The whole of these islands should be in the single market and the customs union - we urge that upon all, but particularly upon the Labour Party.

"If the Labour Party were to adopt that to be a standard, that would move this on very considerably indeed.”