No Sign Of Compromise From PM On Brexit Red Lines: Nicola Sturgeon

24 January 2019, 07:16

Nicola Sturgeon Downing Street

Theresa May shows "no sign of compromise" on her Brexit red lines, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said following a meeting at Number 10.

Speaking from Downing Street, Ms Sturgeon said Mrs May seems set on wooing the "utterly laughable" hard Brexiteers in her own party instead.

She was speaking after the two leaders held face-to-face talks on the way forward for the Brexit process.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It seems to me her priority is trying to win support from the DUP and the hardline Brexiteers in her own party rather than genuinely trying to compromise to bring others on side.

"It seems to me she's putting all of her eggs in the basket of trying to win over the DUP and the ERG (European Research Group) - playing to the right-wing hardline Brexiteers which, unless something fundamental changes that I can't see right now, is destined to fail.

"It's also taking the entire country and Scotland in particular down the wrong road, one that's going to be devastating for our economy and, particularly around free movement, deeply damaging to Scotland's population and therefore our economy in the long-term."

Ms Sturgeon also dismissed calls by ERG leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to suspend or prorogue Parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

"If it wasn't so serious it would be utterly laughable," she said.

"These are the same people, of course, who campaigned for Brexit on the basis it was taking back control for the UK Parliament and at the first whiff of Parliament actually exerting control, they want Parliament, it sounds to me, pretty much abolished.

"Jacob Rees-Mogg and co don't seem to care too much for democracy, and what worries me after the discussion with the Prime Minister is it's those people she's putting all of her efforts into trying to persuade, rather than trying to build a compromise with more reasonable voices."

The First Minister said she had specifically asked Mrs May whether she would soften her Brexit red lines or consider another EU referendum, but was rebuffed.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I think the Prime Minister fears that she would lose another Scottish independence referendum so she's running scared of the verdict of the people.

"It's probably the reason she doesn't want another EU referendum, because she thinks she might lose that.

"People that are confident in their arguments don't run away from the verdict of the people."

But Mrs May earlier told the Commons the SNP is "out of touch" with the people of Scotland, who she said do not want "another divisive Scottish independence referendum".

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Tory MP Stephen Kerr attacked Ms Sturgeon's plan for a second Scottish referendum.

The Stirling MP said: "May I say, as a proud Scot, that the UK is the most successful political union the world has ever known.

"Does the Prime Minister agree with me that when Nicola Sturgeon demands a second independence referendum only four years after we had the last one that the UK Government should side with the majority of people of Scotland and firmly tell her No?"

Mrs May replied: "He is absolutely right. As he points out, Scotland held a referendum in 2014 -it was legal, it was fair, it was decisive and the people clearly voted for Scotland to remain part of the UK.

"But more than that, at the last general election the people of Scotland again sent a very clear message that they do not want a second divisive referendum.

"But the SNP sadly are out of touch with the people of Scotland and they haven't yet heard that message.

"The last thing we want is a second independence referendum - the UK should be pulling together not being driven apart."

Ms Sturgeon claimed Scots have run out of patience with the Prime Minister.

"I think people in Scotland are probably getting sick and tired of hearing what the Prime Minister wants," she said.

"What the PM wants is not the most important thing here - what Scotland needs is what matters most.

"Brexit is demonstrating on a daily basis right now that Scotland needs the ability to take our own decisions so we're not dragged down the wrong path by Tory idealogues, and we don't constantly face the prospect of having policies imposed by Westminster governments that we didn't vote for."

When asked if that means she is "firing the starting gun" on a second Scottish independence referendum, Ms Sturgeon laughed and said "those are your words, not mine".

She reiterated her plan to give more details on the timing of a second vote "in the near future".

She said: "I'm not going to go further than what I've said. I will set out my views in greater detail on this in a matter of weeks.

"Not at the SNP spring conference. It will be at a time and a place that I tell you in due course. I will set out my views in greater detail on that in the near future.

"You can't stand in the way of people having the right to choose indefinitely.

"The Prime Minister's position has never been a sustainable one and it isn't a sustainable one now."