Nicola Sturgeon: No reason Scotland should not get EU deal similar to Northern Ireland

4 December 2017, 14:50

nicola sturgeon

If a Brexit deal can be done that "effectively" keeps Northern Ireland in the single European market, there is "surely no good practical reason" why Scotland should not benefit from such an arrangement, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon made the comments as Britain and the European Union (EU) appear to be moving closer to agreement on key issues, including the status of the Irish border.

Arrangements which would effectively allow Northern Ireland to remain part of the European single union would prevent the return of a "hard border" between the North and the Republic of Ireland.

While Prime Minister Theresa May has previously insisted the entire UK will leave the single market, European Council president Donald Tusk made clear that Brexit talks cannot move on to trade issues unless the UK can satisfy Dublin there will be no return to a strictly-controlled border in Ireland.

Ms Sturgeon said on Twitter: "If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can't."

Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain part of the EU in the referendum which was held in June 2016.

The SNP leader stated: "Right now, Ireland is powerfully demonstrating the importance of being independent when it comes to defending your vital national interests."

The question of how to maintain a soft Irish border had emerged as the key sticking point to getting agreement from the EU to move on to phase two in the Brexit negotiations.

Amid reports of a compromise on the border issue, Mr Tusk tweeted: ''Tell me why I like Mondays! Encouraged after my phone call with Taoiseach @campaignforleo on progress on #Brexit issue of Ireland. Getting closer to sufficient progress at December #EUCO.''

Ireland's deputy premier and foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said the Dublin government's concerns over the post-Brexit border were set to be addressed fully.

He added: ''The indications we have is that we are in a much better place now than we have been in the negotiations to date.

"The legitimate concerns that Ireland has been raising for months are going to be addressed fully.

''These discussions are moving in the right direction.

"I hope we are in a place this evening where Irish people north and south will get reassurance from the wording that is very close to being finalised now.''

Mr Coveney told RTE Radio One he believed that the post-Brexit border will be ''invisible'' with ''no barriers'' and ''will look very much like it looks today''.