Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the triggering of Article 50 to start negotiations for a UK withdrawal from the European Union was was a “leap in the dark” by UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Sturgeon said May’s “hard-line” approach to Brexit was “a reckless gamble.”
Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the EU by 62% to 38% but the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%.
The European Council said in a statement that in Brexit negotiations with the UK the European Union “will act as one and preserve its interests.”
Sturgeon said: “Today’s triggering of Article 50 represents a leap in the dark by the Prime Minister.
“Fully nine months after the EU referendum, the UK Government still cannot answer basic questions about what Brexit will mean for businesses, for the economy generally and for the type of society we live in.
“I wish the Prime Minister well in the negotiations which lie ahead, because a good Brexit deal for the UK is in Scotland’s interests.
“But the UK Government’s hard-line approach to Brexit is a reckless gamble, and it is clear, even at these very early stages, that the final deal is almost certain to be worse economically than the existing arrangements – and potentially much worse.
“Scotland voted decisively to remain part of Europe, but the UK Government only formally responded with a dismissal of our compromise proposals to keep Scotland in the Single Market at the same time as the Article 50 letter was sent.
“The next two years are hugely important and will determine the kind of country Scotland will become.
“The Prime Minister has today confirmed her aim is to reach a Brexit agreement covering a future relationship within two years.
“So the people of Scotland must have the final say on their own future once the terms of Brexit are clear.”
The European Council said in a statement: “We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow.
“For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council.
“These guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission, will negotiate with the United Kingdom.
“In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests.
“Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and Member States.
“Therefore, we will start by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.
“We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement.
“In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner.”