TORY MP Ross Thomson has been urged to explain his claims Aberdeen City Council is “very keen” on a free port deal – after officials denied any support had been offered.

Earlier this month it emerged the UK Government has been considering making the Granite City a free port post-Brexit – which is a zone in which goods can be manufactured, imported and exported without tariffs and customs duties.

When the SNP asked for detailed plans on how the scheme would impact the operation of Aberdeen Harbour, which is an independent body, Thomson tweeted it was “a typical grievance fuelled negative response from the SNP”.

The Tory MP added: “I have spoken with the harbour who are interested and the city council who are keen.”

SNP MSP Kevin Stewart subsequently asked the chief executive of Aberdeen City Council, Angela Scott, if she could provide information on what support had been given.

But she said was not aware of any senior officers meeting with Thomson and therefore “no officer opinion, advice or support on the proposal has been provided”.

Stewart said Thomson had been “caught out telling fibs”.

He said: “Aberdeen City Council officials have confirmed that there’s been absolutely no discussion about his half-cooked plans.

“It’s time for Ross Thomson to be honest about who he has or has not contacted about this proposal.

“Independent research has already shown Aberdeen will be the hardest hit city in the UK should we crash out of the EU - but Boris Johnson and his band of hard-line Tories continue to drive us towards the No-Deal cliff edge. In the event of No-Deal a Free Port would only be a sticking plaster on the economic damage inflicted upon our city. Ross Thomson has a duty to recognise this and respect the wishes of the majority of Aberdonians to oppose a No Deal.“

Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “I and other senior administration figures have met Ross on several occasions to discuss how we can best work together for the city — including a bid for Aberdeen to become a free port.

“The roll-out of free ports across the United Kingdom is exciting news. 

"It is certainly something we are considering and Ross is right to explore interest at this stage.

“This is a tale of two politicians. 

"Kevin Stewart is doing anything to talk down the city, while Ross Thomson is engaging with stakeholders and lobbying government on our behalf. 

"This is a clear example of having someone on the city’s side, not just a mouthpiece for their political party like Mr Stewart.”

Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson said:

"Aberdeen is perfectly placed to be a free port and to benefit from the huge opportunities it could bring our city. 

"I’ll always continue to stand up for Aberdeen, where SNP politicians representing the Granite City have forced business rate hikes, council tax hikes and income tax hikes on it. 

"Kevin Stewart in particular, as local government minister, is responsible for the biggest cut to Aberdeen’s council budget. 

"Our records stand in stark contrast I put my city first — Kevin puts his party first."