Sturgeon wants 'workable' Brexit alternative to May's deal

Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon held face to face talks in London

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for an extension to the Article 50 process.

Speaking after a meeting in London with Prime Minister Theresa May, she said the Brexit choice must not be reduced to the PM's divorce plan or no deal.

The prime minister spoke of the "fishermen, farmers and business leaders" who back her plan.

She urged the first minister to listen to them or risk a no-deal Brexit or "going back to square one".

The first minister said "I used today's meeting with the prime minister to reiterate that it cannot - and must not - be a false choice between her proposed deal and a no-deal outcome, which threatens to be utterly disastrous for jobs, business and living standards.

"Instead, there must be a recognition that, if the PM's deal is defeated in the Commons as is widely expected, then a workable alternative is urgently needed."

She added: "That means there should be an extension to the Article 50 process, and we will join with those from other parties in trying to secure such an extension."

'Clarity and certainty'

Theresa May's office stressed the support her compromise deal had already received.

"This afternoon Prime Minister Theresa May met with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon where they discussed the latest in the UK's exit from the European Union," it said in a statement.

"The prime minister spoke about the support she has received from fishermen, farmers and business leaders - like Sir Ian Wood - who back the deal as it gives them the clarity and certainty they need to protect jobs and living standards.

"The prime minister urged the first minister to listen to these voices in their support of the deal as opposed to risking a no-deal Brexit or going back to square one of negotiations."

The meeting between the two leaders came as MSPs prepared to reject a no-deal scenario and Mrs May's own withdrawal plans at Holyrood this week.

If Mrs May's plans are voted down by MPs, Labour is threatening a vote of no confidence in the government, in the hope of forcing a general election.

The pro-Brexit cabinet minister Michael Gove is urging colleagues to back Mrs May's deal - fearing defeat will result in no deal or even another referendum and no Brexit at all.

Image caption Scottish Secretary David Mundell said business leaders were behind the deal

Meanwhile, the Scottish Secretary David Mundell held discussions with financial services firms in Edinburgh, saying the message from the sector was that they were behind the government's plans.

He said: "Business wants a deal, they recognise the benefits of the deal the prime minister has negotiated, and they want politicians just to get on with it and get this sorted, not create further uncertainty by voting the deal down and opening up the prospect of a no deal."

This was echoed by oil industry tycoon Sir Ian Wood, who told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that "most business people" would agree that Mrs May's deal was "workable".

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