A year out from Brexit, the extreme wing of the Tory party is in control

A year from today, the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.

Incredibly, we still have almost no idea what a post-Brexit UK will be like.

All we know is that the extreme wing of the Tory party are firmly in control of the UK government.

As the Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister I’ve been closely involved with the negotiations.

And what’s at stake here is hugely important for our jobs, our economy and our living standards.

The great tragedy is that the Tories seem hell-bent on throwing away all of the benefits of EU membership.

Like being able to live, study, work or go on holiday to all the EU member states with the minimum of fuss.

And I could talk all day about the benefits to Scottish businesses of having unfettered access to the European Single Market – which is eight times bigger than the UK’s alone.

The benefits of EU membership have become so ingrained in our lives that it’s easy to take them for granted.

But we certainly won’t be taking them for granted if the hard-Brexiteer Tories get their way.

They are determined to drag us not just out of the EU, but out of the Single Market and the Customs Union – all for some fantasy vision dubbed ‘Empire 2.0’.

The fact is, it suits the extreme Brexiteers in the Tory party to keep everyone confused about their intentions.

Just as they did in the run up to the vote, when voters were notoriously promised an extra £350 million a week for the NHS, and Scotland’s fishermen were told they would be out of the Common Fisheries Policy, they will promise everything to everyone – just as long as they can get us out of the EU.

So almost two years on from the Brexit vote, only one thing has really become clear – the Tories think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it.

I and the SNP Government will continue to do everything we can to protect Scotland’s interests.

Michael Russell MSP is Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe.