'˜Time is running out' over Brexit, warns Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will judge whether Scotland's voice is going to be heard in the Brexit process before ­Article 50 is triggered, warning that 'time is running out' to reach a compromise with the UK Government.

Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 7:24 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 7:30 am
Nicola Sturgeon has said she will judge whether Scotland's voice is being heard in the Brexit process. Picture; Getty

The First Minister said that she needs to see “tangible ­evidence” that UK ministers will take forward the ­Scottish Government’s proposals for a differentiated deal on ­European single market ­membership and a review of the devolution settlement.

Ms Sturgeon’s comments will give rise to speculation that she could announce a ­second referendum on ­independence as early as March. Consideration of the SNP government’s proposals for the Brexit process are to “intensify” between now and the triggering of Article 50, ­following a meeting between the Prime Minister and devolved leaders in ­Cardiff ­yesterday. Speaking after the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU negotiation talks, Ms ­Sturgeon said that she “remained to be convinced” that her Government’s ­proposals are being taken seriously.

She added: “I came here determined to find some grounds for compromise, some way of trying to square the circle of the UK-wide vote to leave and the Scottish vote to remain.

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“But I also came with a very direct message to the UK ­Government, that, so far, the compromise or the attempts at compromise have come only from the Scottish Government.

“There has been no willingness to meet in the middle on the part of the UK Government.

“In terms of me getting a sense of whether Scotland is going to be listened to at all, that period between now and triggering of Article 50 is ­absolutely crucial.

“The next few weeks are not going to resolve every issue of Brexit, but in terms of me being able to judge whether Scotland’s voice is going to be heard at all in this process... the next few weeks are very important.”

Asked if such a timescale could see her announce another vote on independence by March, she added: “I’ll do what needs to be done to protect Scotland’s position. We are running out of time for this process. It can’t go on indefinitely and it won’t go on indefinitely.

“This is one of the last key opportunities for me to make clear to the Prime Minister that I have to see some ­movement on her part, and over the next few weeks she has got the opportunity to demonstrate whether that movement is going to be forthcoming.”

Proposals to remain in the single market were also ­put forward by Welsh First ­Minister Carwyn Jones and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood.

A communiqué issued ­following the meeting said “consideration of the proposals of the devolved administrations is an ongoing process”, adding “work will need to be intensified ahead of triggering Article 50 and continued at the same pace thereafter”.