The UK's split from the EU will fail and damage the country so much that it will attempt to rejoin the economic and political bloc in 20 years' time, Scotland's Brexit minister predicted on Thursday (11 May).

"I actually think in 20 years' time, if the UK does come out, in 20 years' time the UK will be in the process of trying to be back in and it will have lost 20 years of influence and progress," Scottish National Party MSP Michael Russell told a Holyrood parliamentary committee, according to Reuters.

The comments come as the two-year-long negotiations between EU the UK are about to start after Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March.

The Conservative prime minister, who campaigned for Remain at the 2016 EU referendum, has promised to make a success of the break away from Brussels.

May also said she called the general election on 8 June to strengthen her hand at the negotiating table.

"If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election," she said as she called the election.

"Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.

"So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.

"I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion."

The move looks like it will pay off for May, with the Tories up to 22 points ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. Such a result would see the Conservatives win a landslide and a majority of more than 100 MPs.

The SNP is also expected to lose Westminster seats to the Tories at the election, delivering a blow to Nicola Sturgeon's call to hold a second Scottish independence referendum.

Banksy EU flag artwork
A closer look at a workman chipping away at one of the 12 stars on EU flag in a piece of Banksy artwork REUTERS/Hannah McKay