WILLIE Rennie has urged the UK Government to be honest about the devastating impact of cutting immigration, as he refused to accept that Brexit is “unstoppable”.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader called on the Conservatives to admit they were wrong in order to avoid damage to jobs and growth.

He insisted EU migrants had “helped turn around the long-term decline in Scotland’s population”, and were essential to maintaining public services.

Mr Rennie made the comments as he gave a lecture on “Scotland after Brexit” to the David Hume Institute, in which he raised the prospect of a “Brexit deal escape chute”.

But he refused to accept the premise of the topic, adding: “If I started talking about life after Brexit people might think that even I think it is unstoppable, inevitable, irreversible.”

The MSP said it was now clear Article 50 could be revoked, and argued there was growing support for a final vote on the Brexit deal – giving the public the last say.

He said: “The queue for a public vote on the deal is growing. Most people want one. Most people fear for the economy if we don’t get one.

“Everyone who wants that to happen needs to make sure they stand up and be counted, and that moment will be very soon.”

Mr Rennie called on the SNP to “put aside their antipathy to the UK for once” and support a second referendum on the Brexit deal.

He said: “The demographic challenge Scotland still faces will see more deaths than births every year for the next 25 years.

“By 2041 there is projected to be as many as 10,000 more deaths than births that year. Migration could account for all of Scotland’s population growth over the period.

“Ensuring EU citizens are free to continue to live and work here is essential for maintaining that population growth, which underpins future economic growth and the sustainability of our public services.”

He repeated calls for a new federal approach to the UK, with devolved administrations “coming together to agree common frameworks”.

Mr Rennie said: “Most countries in the world do it and they can’t understand why the UK seems so incapable of undertaking modern, common-sense governance.

“The key to federalism is that the different administrations all may have different priorities and nuances within a framework. But they all have an eye and a care for the success of the whole.”