Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon to have Downing Street talks with Theresa May

Sturgeon and May
Image caption Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon have not held formal face-to-face talks since March

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to meet Prime Minister Theresa May for talks in London on Tuesday.

The SNP leader will travel to Downing Street for her first face-to-face talks with the prime minister since March.

Mrs May indicated earlier in the year that she wanted to speak to Ms Sturgeon in a bid to break the deadlock between the two governments over Brexit.

It is thought they will also discuss the upcoming UK budget and concerns about sexual harassment in politics.

The talks come as MPs consider amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, a key piece of Brexit legislation which is at the heart of a dispute between the Scottish and UK governments.

The Scottish government is refusing to put the bill forward for legislative consent at the Scottish Parliament unless changes are made to protect devolved competencies as powers return from Brussels post-Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon terms current proposals a "power grab" by Westminster, while Mrs May insists the devolved parliaments will gain "significant" responsibilities when the UK leaves the EU.

A series of talks between top ministers from the two governments has thus far failed to break the deadlock.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said Ms Sturgeon would be "seeking clarity" on Brexit and the Withdrawal Bill, as well as other topics.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ms Sturgeon has described previous talks with Mrs May as "very frustrating"

In September, the first minister said in an interview with New Statesman that prior meetings with Mrs May were "very frustrating", saying she had found it "impossible to get any human connection" with the prime minister. She said: "This is a woman who sits in meetings where it's just the two of you and reads from a script."

As well as Brexit, Ms Sturgeon is expected to press her government's economic priorities ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond's autumn budget on 22 November.

Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, whose own draft budget will follow in December, has written to Mr Hammond urging him to ditch austerity cuts, halt the rollout of Universal Credit and provide more money to Scotland's farmers and railways while exempting the national police and fire services from VAT.

And the UK's two most prominent female political leaders are also expected to discuss the issue of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour at Westminster and Holyrood, which has seen ministers forced to resign from each of their governments.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Scottish early years minister Mark McDonald both left their ministerial posts following complaints about their conduct, and both party leaders have called for better measures to crack down on misconduct and support victims.

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