Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s minister for EU exit, signalled the SNP administration would consider any price in order to remain in the EU’s Single Market.
Ms Sturgeon and her ministers are demanding Scotland be allowed to remain in the Single Market by joining the European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA).
This is despite the rest of the UK leaving the Single Market, as the Prime Minister has set out in her Brexit plan.
Appearing before the House of Commons’ Exiting the EU Committee this morning, Mr Russell admitted the SNP plan would involve Scotland handing over an annual sum to Brussels for Single Market membership.
Norway has been estimated to pay £740million per year to the EU in return for Single Market membership through the EEA.
Asked by Vote Leave figurehead Michael Gove how much Scotland would pay for a similar ‘Norway-style’ deal with Brussels, Mr Russell replied: “It will make the contribution according to that which is set at the time as the amount required and that of course will be by negotiation.”
Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s minister for EU exit
A small price to pay
SNP minister Michael Russell
Refusing to guess at a number, Mr Russell was tackled over a suggested £3.3billion figure included in the Scottish Government’s 50-page paper titled ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’, which sets out the SNP plan.
The Scottish Government minister said: “I stand by everything in Scotland's Place in Europe as a basis for negotiation.“
He added: “I stand by every item in the paper and I'm happy to negotiate.”
Mr Russell claimed a £3.3billion fee would be “a small price to pay” while also confirming the potential sum would come out of the Scottish Government’s £33billion anuual budget.
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@michaelgove except I didn’t but what are facts to a journalist …?
— Michael Russell (@Feorlean) February 8, 2017
The SNP minister also took aim at Mr Gove over the Vote Leave campaign’s claim during the EU referendum that £350million per week could be given the the NHS by ending the UK’s contributions to the Brussels budget.
The Tory MP hit back at Mr Russell: “It would be money that would go to the NHS in England not in Scotland… because you would be giving all that money to the EU.”
The pair's clash continued on Twitter after the committee hearing with Mr Gove, now a newspaper columnist, claiming on Twitter Mr Russell's evidence had revealed "SNP plans means Scotland still paying into EU and no control over banks, oil or gas!".
Mr Russell replied: "Except I didn’t but what are facts to a journalist …?"
The ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ paper, presented by First Minister Ms Sturgeon last year, states the whole UK opting for EEA membership could see a net contribution “around £52 per person (£3.3 billion in aggregate) per year”.