Nicola Sturgeon has called for “urgent clarity” from Theresa May on transition plans as the UK leaves the EU.
In a letter to Theresa May, the first minister said that the prime minister’s proposal for a two-year implementation period had been “seriously undermined”.
It followed comments from Mrs May that there would be no transition deal unless a trading relationship with the EU was settled next year.
Number 10 said it was confident “general terms” would be agreed soon.
While the first minister said she had welcomed comments from Mrs May made in Florence last month that she would be seeking urgent agreement on a two-year transition, Ms Sturgeon said that subsequent comments made in the Commons by the prime minister had “seriously undermined” clarity on the issue and also the confidence of business.
Ms Sturgeon wrote: “This relates in particular to your comments suggesting no transition can be agreed, or formalised, until there is agreement on the future relationship.
“I am therefore urgently seeking your assurances that you are committed to rapidly putting in place transition arrangements that will meet the needs of business.”
Businesses have pressed the UK government to agree the terms of transition with the EU by Christmas.
She said she wanted confirmation that the prime minister was urgently seeking agreement on a transition arrangement of at least two years, with the aim of securing that agreement by the end of this year.
She also said that it should be based on the current structure of EU rules.
Scotland’s first minister wrote that such an agreement should not be conditional on a deal before the UK’s leave date of March 2019.
She also expressed concerns that UK government negotiations would result in a “no deal” scenario.
She added: “The Scottish Parliament gave a clear view this week that a no deal situation would not be acceptable and I believe that if the UK finds itself in that position, that no Brexit would be preferable to no deal – or indeed a bad deal – and that each of the Parliaments in the UK must have the opportunity to take a view on that.”
A UK government spokeswoman said: “The prime minister was clear in her speech in Florence that we want a time-limited implementation period to carry out the practical changes necessary as we move to our new partnership with the EU.
“Our proposal for an implementation period is very similar to what the EU set out in their April guidelines so we are confident of agreeing the general terms of the implementation period soon.”