Scotland politics

Sturgeon: Scotland must be 'equal partner' in Brexit talks

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Reuters

Scotland must be treated as an "equal partner" in the UK's Brexit negotiations with the EU, according to the Scottish government.

Nicola Sturgeon will meet the prime minister in London on Monday for talks.

The Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) will meet for the first time since the EU referendum.

Downing Street said Theresa May would set out her vision for a new way of working between the UK government and the devolved administrations.

The prime minister will propose that the JMC - a body made up of representatives from the UK government and the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - meets at least yearly and is hosted by each government on a rotating basis.

Speaking ahead of the JMC, Michael Russell, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe, said the Scottish government had a "triple mandate" to maintain Scotland's relationship with Europe.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Michael Russell said there was concern a "hard Brexit" would harm Scotland

He said: "The clearly expressed views of the people of Scotland, the democratically elected Scottish government and the Scottish Parliament all need to be respected.

"But four months on from the referendum, we have yet to see a proposal from the UK Government on how the views of people in Scotland will be taken into account.

"The Scottish government is becoming increasingly concerned that the UK is heading for a hard Brexit with all the damage that will bring to the Scottish and UK economies.

"The prime minister has set the clock ticking and the UK government must use the time before triggering Article 50 to engage properly with all the devolved administrations and show that they are willing and able to treat Scotland as an equal partner."

Downing Street said the prime minister would call on the devolved administrations to commit to working with her government to enhance the prosperity and security of all the nations in the UK.

She will also seek agreement on strengthening ways of working on a basis of "co-operation and consensus".

Her proposed changes to the JMC include:

  • Meetings held at least every 12 months.
  • An annual report on the committee's work and priorities.
  • Meetings hosted by each of the four governments on a revolving basis.

'Grown-up relationship'

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "When I stood upon the steps of Downing Street I made clear the importance of our great Union.

"Far more than mere geography brings us together - and we are much more than the sum of our parts. As we move into this new chapter, we must seize the opportunities ahead, as we will achieve far more together than we could ever do apart.

"I want Monday's meeting to be the start of a new grown-up relationship between the devolved administrations and the UK government - one in which we all work together to forge the future for everyone in the United Kingdom."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale set out five principles she believed should guide Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale urged Ms Sturgeon to negotiate on behalf of all the people of Scotland, not just those who support independence, when she meets the prime minister.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, Ms Dugdale set out the five guiding principles that Scottish Labour believes should inform the Scottish government's negotiating stance on Brexit.

They include maintaining free access to the EU single market and maintaining free access to the UK single market.

She also said that Ms Sturgeon's focus should be on securing the best possible deal for Scotland on Brexit, not "laying the groundwork" for another Scottish independence referendum.

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