Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media in Downing Street after a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media in Downing Street after a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Alastair Grant

UK leaders clashing over Brexit

THERESA May's efforts to involve the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in her Brexit plan have fallen flat after Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, branded them "deeply frustrating”.

The British Prime Minister had previously offered to engage leaders of the three governments in regular discussions to quell concern about her handling of Brexit.

But leaving Downing Street, Ms Sturgeon signalled her unhappiness.

"We had a frank exchange of views. I don't mind admitting large parts of the meeting were deeply frustrating,” she said.

No. 10 tried to play down any fallout, saying the talks had been "constructive”.

Ms Sturgeon had set out demands including access to the single market, but Ms May's spokesperson said no leader would be allowed to "undermine” the UK's overall position.

After two hours of talks, Ms Sturgeon said outside No 10: "I don't know any more now about the UK Government's approach to the EU negotiations than I did before I went in.”

Ms May is proposing a sub-committee of the Joint Ministerial Committee to give the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a "direct line” to Brexit Secretary David Davis during negotiations.

But Ms Sturgeon said there was "a long way to go” and warned that for Scotland the consequences of a hard Brexit, in which the UK quit the single market to gain full control of immigration policy, were "severe”.

She will bring forward "specific proposals” for a so-called flexible Brexit that would keep Scotland in the single market even if the rest of the UK drops out of the trading agreement.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said there had been no details about what happens next in the divorce talks, and warned "time is not on our side”.

He said access to the single market was "the most important issue”, but dismissed suggestions by Ms Sturgeon that Scotland could remain part of it if the rest of the UK did not.



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