Draft Brexit Deal Bad For Scotland, Sturgeon Claims

15 November 2018, 07:19

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister has branded the draft Brexit deal agreed by the UK Cabinet as "bad for Scotland".

Theresa May announced an agreement had been reached after a marathon five-hour meeting which stretched on far beyond its expected time.

Nicola Sturgeon likened the deal to being "blackmailed into a choice between the frying pan or the fire", claiming it posed a threat to jobs.

In a phone call with the Prime Minister after the Cabinet meeting, Ms Sturgeon rejected Mrs May's assertion that Scotland's interests had been protected in the deal.

"I pointed out that there isn't a single mention of Scotland in the agreement, that it disregards our interests and puts Scotland at a serious competitive disadvantage," she said.

However, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said it would be worse for Scotland to crash out with no agreement, so he was happy to give it his backing.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is obvious that the Prime Minister can barely unite her Cabinet on this deal and it is also increasingly clear that she will struggle to get a majority for it in Parliament.

"In these circumstances it is more important than ever that we are not faced with a false choice between a bad deal and no deal.

"No-one should be effectively blackmailed into a choice between the frying pan or the fire.

"This proposed deal would be a bad one for Scotland, taking us out of a single market eight times the size of the UK market alone and posing a huge threat to jobs, investment and living standards.

"If this deal is indeed rejected by Parliament, then the UK Government must return to the negotiating table to secure a better one.

"Our bottom line - short of continued EU membership - is continued, permanent membership of the single market and customs union."

Mrs May described the debate around the famous Cabinet table as "long, detailed and impassioned", in an apparent indication that her proposals had come under intense challenge from ministers.

Predicted resignations did not materialise, as Mrs May said ministers had come to a "collective decision" to back the document agreed by UK and EU negotiators in Brussels.

The Cabinet's agreement clears the way for a special Brexit summit in Brussels - probably on November 25 - for EU leaders to approve the deal, followed by a crucial Commons vote in which MPs will hold Britain's future in their hands.

Mrs May said she will outline the deal to MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Mr Mundell said: "The worst possible outcome for Scotland and the whole of the UK would be a no deal departure from the EU."

Meanwhile, Scottish Greens Europe spokesman Ross Greer MSP said: "This is a bad deal for Scotland. Holyrood should debate it and reject it as soon as possible."

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "This is a bad deal for the country.

"Labour has been clear from the beginning that we need a deal to support jobs and the economy - one that guarantees standards and protections.

"The Tories have let down the country with their bungled negotiations and pushed Britain towards a bad deal that will harm jobs, rights and living standards.

"The deal undermines the integrity of the UK and would be another example of the Tories playing into the hands of the SNP by putting the future of the UK at risk through their ineptitude and recklessness.

"Ruth Davidson and David Mundell threatened to resign if the integrity of the UK was put at risk - and it appears Theresa May has simply ignored them."