SCOTTISH Borders Council’s administration has been accused of burying its head in the sand over Brexit.

At Thursday’s council meeting, Councillor Stuart Bell (SNP) told members they “cannot walk by on the other side of the road” and that the potential implications of a hard Brexit in the Borders are “devastating”.

Cllr Bell tabled a motion asking SBC leader Shona Haslam (Cons) to write to the Prime Minister outlining the importance of remaining in the customs union and the single market.

He also called on the chief executive to bring forward an analysis of the impact a hard Brexit could have on the Borders – within the next three months. 

But his motion was rejected by 12 votes to 17, with two abstentions. Cllr Bell told us: “It is outrageous that nearly two years after the vote to leave the European Union nobody yet knows what we are going to get – but this has to be decided by October this year in order to meet the timescales to leave in one year’s time. 

“It is not premature for the council to form an opinion now. 

“I don’t think that the Prime Minister would endorse the view of Borders Tories that she doesn’t want to listen to our council opinion. I fear that the real problem is that the local Tories are frightened to have an opinion.”

The case against the motion was put by Mark Rowley and seconded by fellow Conservative Tom Miers.

Councillor Miers accused Cllr Bell of “trying to cause mischief”.

He told us: “I think turning the motion down was the right thing to do.

“Stuart Bell was saying we should write to the Prime Minister and carry out an impact study on what will happen in the Borders if there is a hard Brexit.

“But nobody is aiming for a hard Brexit. The government is looking for a competitive free trade agreement.

“The second point I made is that we should all be pulling together in the UK to ensure we get the best deal for everyone.

“My third point is that I think it is a bit rich for the SNP to start complaining. They are campaigning every day to try and split up the UK – which would be far more damaging for the Borders economy.

“I think Cllr Bell is missing the elephant in the room and trying to cause mischief.”