Nicola Sturgeon has accepted there would have to be a border between England and an independent Scotland but insisted businesses and trade would not “suffer” because of it.
The SNP leader said Scotland would try to negotiate arrangements to “keep trade flowing easily across the border” if it becomes independent and rejoins the European Union.
The First Minister said an independent Scotland would “comply with all of the requirements of EU membership” when asked about European Union regulations, customs checks and inspections of goods entering the single market.
She said: “We will put in place arrangements and we will negotiate those arrangements for the UK that means that businesses do not, in a practical sense, suffer from any of that.”
Under EU rules, consignments of animals and goods need to be physically inspected before entering the EU’s single market, including 30% of poultry, eggs, milk and fish, and all live animals.
Sturgeon added: “I’m not denying that because of the absurdity of Brexit and the Tory Brexit obsession, then all sorts of issues are raised for Scotland completely against our democratic will.
“What I’m saying is we will work as a country to make sure that for our businesses there is no difficulties in terms of their day-to-day experience in trading.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning, Sturgeon continued: “Before we get to a point where we’re asking people to choose whether or not they want Scotland to become independent – which is the choice of the Scottish people – just as we did in 2014, we will set out all of the implications of independence, all of the advantages of independence, and all the practical issues that people have to consider so that people make an informed choice.”
She defended the absence of any analysis on the financial impact of independence and said it would be “to put the cart rather before the horse” ahead of another vote.
Questioned about an LSE study that suggested leaving the United Kingdom and rejoining the EU could reduce Scots’ incomes by between 6.3% and 7.7%, Sturgeon said: “Frankly, that’s not an argument against independence, that is an argument for Scotland being able to take control of her vast resources to make better economic decisions than Westminster governments tend to make on our behalf.”
On Scotland’s deficit that a Sunday Times report of an IFS study suggests will be up to a quarter of GDP, she added: “We’ll deal with a deficit in the same way almost every other country across the world that has a deficit deals with that: you manage your finances through borrowing [and] through prudent decisions about public spending.”
Following Sturgeon’s interview, shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray said: “With economists warning Scotland is headed for a jobs crisis it is reckless beyond imagining to call for a referendum during our recovery.
“Hearing the casual way with which Nicola Sturgeon dismisses those independent experts that she is so fond of quoting when they agree with her and her failure to answer any of the tough questions on separation – from effects on income to the border – is playing fast and loose with people’s futures.
“Scotland deserves better than this.
“Scottish Labour is opposed to independence and a second referendum.
“If you want a country focused on what unites us, not what divides us then use your second vote, on the peach ballot paper, to back Anas Sarwar and Labour’s national recovery plan.”
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said:“Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a post-referendum border would be a hammer-blow for Scottish businesses and put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk that rely on trade with the rest of the UK.
“By Nicola Sturgeon’s own admission, the SNP are clueless about the economic impact of independence. They’ve done no analysis on how many jobs it would put at risk or how much damage would be done to Scotland’s economy.
“She floundered and didn’t have a single convincing answer to dispel the overwhelming evidence that separating Scotland from the rest of the UK would be devastating for jobs and businesses.
“There’s one clear way to avoid a border at Berwick – vote Scottish Conservative on the peach ballot to stop the SNP’s push for a reckless referendum in its tracks.
“If pro-UK voters unite and back the Scottish Conservatives using their peach party list vote, we can stop the nationalists’ plans to wreck Scotland’s recovery.”