Scottish First Minister slams Theresa May for 'cloak of secrecy'
Nicola Sturgeon, has declared that it is ‘gobsmacking’ that the UK government has provided few signs of a firm Brexit negotiation strategy ahead of Article 50 being invoked next year.
Speaking yesterday to the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee, Scotland’s First Minister told members:
‘we are three months on from the referendum, and basic questions about what the UK Government is seeking to achieve have not been answered—for example, are we in or out of the single market?’
‘We are’, Ms Sturgeon declared, ‘at the start of what is likely to be a very long and perhaps a very tortuous process’. She went on to warn that there is now ‘a real risk that the UK is facing right now a lost decade or more’ for the economy and society which ‘will be deep and severe’.
In a direct challenge to the Prime Minister’s declaration that the government will not provide a ‘running commentary’ on Brexit negotiations, the First Minister told the Holyrood committee looking at Brexit:
‘the idea that there can be a cloak of secrecy over the UK government’s position as it develops is untenable.’
Outlining the Scottish Government’s approach to the Brexit talks, Ms Sturgeon pledged to ‘make common cause with those of like minds across the UK, to try to reach the least-worst outcome for the UK as a whole’, she argued, and that this meant remaining in the single market.
She noted however that ministers north of the border ‘will make sure that the option of Independence remains open’ if Scotland is not able to protect its interests in the UK. This was despite polling by TNS earlier this week showing little signs of a Brexit bounce in support of Scotland going it alone.
Sturgeon said she hoped discussions between the UK and Scottish governments over Brexit would be meaningful, adding that Mike Russell, Scotland’s Europe minister, is meeting Brexit Secretary David Davis today to build on talks between officials about ensuring Holyrood’s role in shaping Brexit strategy.
The meeting is likely to be a tense affair. Shortly after becoming Prime Minister and in her first official visit in the post, Theresa May, visiting Edinburgh, pledged not to trigger Article 50 until a ‘UK wide approach’ had been agreed to the negotiations.
Shortly after however, David Davis argued strongly that Scotland could not and should not expect a veto over the negotiation strategy.
It wasn’t the only confused signal coming from the UK government. While in July Chancellor Philip Hammond argued there would be no separate EU deal for Scotland, David Davis last week noted that though he did not think a separate deal would work, he is looking at it.
Ed Jacobs is contributing editor to Left Foot ForwardSign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.