Not-so-hot line: Scottish government waits 36 hours to speak to Brexit secretary

Sturgeon reiterated her frustration with the UK government in the Scottish Parliament

 

Theresa May pledged this week that the devolved administrations would have a direct line to Brexit Secretary, David Davis — but it turns out the line is not quite as direct as expected.

On Monday, the Prime Minister met with the heads of the and devolved governments and promised that ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have a ‘direct line’ to the Brexit Secretary, ensuring their role in shaping the UK’s plans to exit the EU.

It was, to put it frankly, about the only bit of news from what seemed to have been a deeply frustrating meeting in which the PM gave nothing away about what she wants from Brexit.

Yesterday however, it emerged that Michael Russell — the Scottish minister leading on ensuring that Scotland’s voice is heard in Brexit discussions — had to wait 36 hours to speak to David Dais after requesting a call.

During First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon was asked (by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine) why the she felt Theresa May was happy to be led by hard-right Brexiteers over the economic commons sense.

Nicola Sturgeon told the parliament:

“The only new information we got on Monday was that the UK government has set up what they have called a ‘hotline’ to David Davis. I can share with the Chamber today that Michael Russell’s office called that hotline this week.

He called it just before midday on Tuesday, it took until after six pm yesterday to actually get David Davis on the hotline — that’s 36 hours.

So yes, there is now a telephone line we can call, it’s just currently not very hot.”

The news came in a week in which relations between the Scottish and UK Government deteriorated just that bit more after Nicola Sturgeon declared that the Prime Minister had provided ‘no more information or detail’ about the UK negotiating position at the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee.

She warned that the Scottish Government was not ‘bluffing’ over its promised to hold a second independence referendum if Scotland’s vote against Brexit is ‘not respected’.

Earlier this week the Institute for Government warned that  imposing a Brexit settlement in the face of opposition from the devolved governments ‘would be a reckless strategy for a PM with a deep commitment to the Union.’

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward

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