May calls on Sturgeon to back Brexit deal and not 'sow the politics of division'

8 August 2018, 05:30

Theresa May

Theresa May challenged the Scottish Government to get behind her Brexit proposals, instead of trying to "sow the politics of division".

The Prime Minister insisted all parts of the United Kingdom should support the Chequers deal, agreed by the cabinet on Britain' departure from the European Union.

She spoke out after holding talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - with the SNP leader saying afterwards the discussions had failed to ease her concerns that Britain could be forced to quite the EU without a formal agreement.

Liam Fox, the UK Government's International Trade Secretary, recently put the chances of this happening as 60-40 - blaming European "intransigence" for the situation.

Ms Sturgeon said afterwards: "My concern about the increasing prospect of a no deal Brexit certainly wasn't allayed in that meeting.

"We discussed obviously the position around the Chequers agreement. The Prime Minister's position continues to be that she thinks Chequers is the basis of an agreement on the future relationship, notwithstanding that everybody else thinks that it's not."

Mrs May, however, insisted her government was "working to get a good deal for the whole of the United Kingdom," in Brexit talks with Europe.

The Prime Minister stated: "We set out a clear proposal in the Chequers plan, that delivers on the Brexit vote, that does so while protecting jobs and livelihoods in the UK, that ensure we deliver on free movement in the future, the ending of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, but that we are able to do so while maintaining good trading relationships with the European Union, that's important for all parts of the UK.

"We're now sitting down and discussing those proposals with the European Union and we're negotiating as a United Kingdom."

The Scottish Government has repeatedly called for the UK to remain in both the European single market and the customs union after leaving the EU.

Tensions between the two administrations have also become more frayed after the Scottish Government refused to back the European Withdrawal Bill, instead passing its own Brexit contigency legislation - with the Supreme Court currently considering a Westminster challenge to this.

Mrs May was clear she wanted all parts of the UK to support the Chequers deal that her cabinet had agreed on.

"I think it is incumbent on all parts of the United Kingdom to be supporting the proposals that we're putting forward in their interaction with Brussels," she said.

"I think it important we see those proposals being supported, rather than sadly what I fear we see here which is an attempt to sow the politics of division.

"We're working to get a good deal, we've put forward a proposal that delivers on the Brexit vote, that protects jobs and livelihoods here in the UK, that will be good for all parts of the United Kingdom, that ensures we have that clear good trading relationship in the future with the European Union, and that delivers on other issues people want."

Asked if she would accept any request from the Scottish Government to hold a second independence referendum, Mrs May said the focus should be on delivering for the UK.

The Prime Minister said: "The Scottish people voted in 2014, they had a referendum, they gave a clear decision they wanted Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

"I believe what we should be doing now is working and getting on with the job of delivering on the future of the United Kingdom, that's about Brexit, it is about getting a good Brexit deal, it is about all the other issues like the industrial strategy, like the city deals.

"What I want to see is the Scottish Government also putting forward their support for proposals we have put forward to the European Union that will deliver on the vote, but would also deliver for Scotland and the rest of the UK."

She spoke after formally signing the £1.3 billion city deal for Edinburgh and the south east of Scotland with the First Minister.

Mrs May described that agreement, which brings together the two governments, councils, universities and business as being an "exciting step towards a brighter future" for the area.