Fighting talk from Sturgeon over place at Brexit table

Scotland will not be 'window dressing in a talking shop' when it comes to negotiating Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

Thursday, 8th September 2016, 7:05 am
Updated Monday, 12th September 2016, 3:43 pm
Nicola Sturgeon wants a decision-making role for the Scottish Government.

The First Minister insisted the Scottish Government should have a decision-making role as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, stating that it will use its influence to keep the country in the European single market.

Ms Sturgeon has previously suggested that she could bring forward a second independence referendum if Theresa May’s administration opts out of the free trade zone.

And in a swipe at her opponents, who have called for her to take a repeat of the 2014 ballot off the table, she said that giving up the option would be accepting that Scotland is “at the mercy of Westminster decisions no matter how damaging or destructive” they are.

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Mrs May has refused to say whether she wants the UK to remain in the single market, telling MPs she will not reveal her Brexit negotiating hand “prematurely”.

But Ms Sturgeon said a lack of clarity on the UK Government’s position was causing frustration, with a “meaningless tautological soundbite” in place of real policy.

In a statement at Holyrood, she said the Scottish Government was “committed to pursuing all possible options” to protect Scotland’s interests.

“Of course our ability to fully assess the different options will be constrained until we start to get some clarity about what the UK government is seeking to achieve,” she said.

“We continue to press for urgent clarification on how the UK government will deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment to full involvement for Scotland.”

She added: “Let me be crystal clear about this, and it is a point I have made directly to the UK government, the Scottish Government will not be window dressing in a talking shop to allow the UK government to simply tick a box.

“We expect to have, along with the other devolved nations, a role in decision-making, we expect our engagement to be meaningful.”

Retaining single market membership would be the “least bad outcome” for the UK, Ms Sturgeon said.

“I accept that the Prime Minister has a mandate in England and Wales to leave the EU, but I do not accept that she has a mandate to take any part of the UK out of the single market,” she added.

“I hope all parties in this chamber will back us as we make that case, and I hope also that we can make common cause with others across the UK.”

On the prospect of another independence referendum, she added: “To give up the right to consider that option would be to accept that we are at the mercy of Westminster decisions, no matter how damaging or destructive they are to our economy, our society and our place in the world.

“That is not a position anyone with Scotland’s best interests at heart should ever be prepared to accept.”