Scotland politics

SNP: Theresa May's Brexit policies 'must be scrapped'

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Media captionMichael Russell calls for Tories to re-examine Brexit plans

Theresa May's Brexit plans should be dropped urgently, according to the Scottish government.

Scotland's Brexit minister, Michael Russell, told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme that Mrs May's leadership was now "untenable".

He said Scotland's proposals published last year could be a starting point for the UK government and devolved administrations to draw up a new plan.

The SNP is still the third largest party in Westminster with 35 seats.

"It's extremely important that the entire Brexit policy from Theresa May is scrapped and that they start again," Mr Russell said.

'Presided over chaos'

"The first part of that is to persuade Theresa May that clinging to Downing Street is not a sensible idea. She has presided over chaos over the last year.

"The result of this election shows that people don't trust her. I don't think her position is tenable."

He said the Joint Ministerial Committee for European negotiations needed to meet urgently to look at how Brexit negations go forward, having not met since February.

Mr Russell repeated First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's stance that the SNP would reflect on plans for a second independence referendum amid calls for it to be taken off the table after the party lost 21 seats.

But he added that "to some extent everything is off the table" until stability was restored and the Brexit situation addressed.

"First of all we need some stability," Mr Russell said. "People everywhere are crying out for stability. We've had from the Tories over the last 12 months nothing but chaos and instability."

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Image caption Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson wants to build consensus around a Brexit deal

Ms Sturgeon published the Scottish government's proposals for Brexit in December 2016, arguing it was possible for Scotland to remain in the European single market even after the rest of the UK left.

Mr Russell said: "We believe it is still on the table and we do believe it contains some important solutions. It started with the premise that the whole of the UK should stay in the single market and that, I'm pleased to see, is something that is back on the agenda.

"As a government we intend to continue to promote the 'Scotland's Place in Europe' document, and if others wish to do so they would be very welcome to join us.

"If the Tories in Scotland have genuinely changed their view on Brexit then I'd be very pleased. But the forum to take this forward is through the Joint Ministerial Committee."

He said he was sure there was still potential for a progressive alliance in the House of Commons, but that it was important to look at the Brexit situation this week, and "devise a new approach that takes in the four countries, not just England".

"Theresa May has tried to make all the decisions on this and look at the mess she's made of it," he added.

'Cross-party support'

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said on Saturday that she would argue Scotland's case "forcefully" to the prime minister, having won 13 seats in Thursday's election.

She said she wanted to build consensus around a Brexit deal that put free trade and economic advancement at its heart.

Ms Davidson said: "I want to ensure that we can look again at issues like Brexit which we know we are now going to have to get cross-party support for - and move to a consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave."

Image caption Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie has been joined by three new MPs for his party

New Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West Christine Jardine told the Sunday Politics Scotland programme the election "sent a clear message" to the SNP that the proposed independence referendum should be dropped.

But she said the Liberal Democrats, which now have four MPs in Scotland, were still determined to hold a second referendum on Europe.

"We made it clear on the doorstep that we would fight to keep the UK heart of Europe," she added.

Labour MSP James Kelly, also speaking on the programme, said the SNP should make it clear "indyref2 is off the table" and take "responsibility for the issues that matter in Scotland, for example child poverty."

Mr Kelly said the party's seven Scottish MPs would "play an active role in Jeremy Corbyn's team" adding, "at the forefront of that there needs to be a lead person speaking for Scotland in the shadow cabinet".

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