Nicola Sturgeon’s case for independence has been dealt a blow after Scottish businesses increased their reliance on trade with the rest of the UK.

Unionist politicians said new figures, released on Thursday, proved that the SNP’s plan to leave the UK and rejoin the EU as an independent state would cause “huge economic damage” and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Exports to England, Wales and Northern Ireland rose £2.5 billion, to £52 billion, in 2019. Meanwhile, trade with the EU also grew but at a slower pace, increasing by just £420 million to £16.4 billion.

The rest of the UK accounted for 60 per cent of Scottish exports, compared to just 19 per cent for the EU and 21 per cent to the rest of the world.

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