Sunday 19 November 2017

Sturgeon: Scotland does have a veto over timing of UK exit from EU

Deal: British PM Theresa May meeting Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week. Photo: Andrew Milligan /PA Wire
Deal: British PM Theresa May meeting Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week. Photo: Andrew Milligan /PA Wire

Christopher Hope

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has claimed she has a veto over when Britain leaves the European Union, in comments that will infuriate Tory ministers in charge of Brexit.

Scotland's First Minister suggested she could dictate the timing of a British exit from the EU, in an interview on BBC One's 'Andrew Marr Show'.

Ms May indicated on Friday that Brexit could be delayed as she said she would not start the formal process for leaving until there is a "UK approach" backed by Scotland.

In a sign that the new Prime Minister was committed to keeping the union with Scotland intact, she said she would not trigger Article 50 - the formal process for withdrawing from the EU - until all the devolved nations agreed.

Asked whether she had a "veto in her back pocket" about the timing of Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said: "I think we are in a very strong position. That is a position that I am going to use as well as I can."

Later, she told BBC Scotland that she believed Ms May wanted to "find options" which acknowledge that Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

"If you are asking me right now, do I think Theresa May will never ever trigger Article 50 unless I am saying to her I am absolutely happy with the direction that the UK is taking, I don't know that that is the case," she said.

"But what she did seem to indicate is that she wants, as I want, to see if we can find options that respect how Scotland voted."

Ms Sturgeon has already set up a group to look at the options for protecting Scotland's place in Europe.

Read more: Setback for Scotland as Sturgeon is snubbed by Tusk in drive for EU deal

She also said it could be possible to find a solution in which Scotland remains in the EU and the UK, while the rest of Britain leaves the EU - a move that Scottish Secretary David Mundell has described as fanciful.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Brexit Secretary David Davis said they wanted Britain to start formal exit talks this year.

Mr Davis insisted on Sky News that Scotland could not have a veto over leaving the EU. He said: "I don't think that works. One of our really challenging issues to deal with will be the internal border we have with southern Ireland, and we are not going to go about creating other internal borders inside the United Kingdom."

He said that a "generous settlement" would be negotiated for EU migrants living in the UK and British citizens living in Europe.

But he warned this could attract a surge of EU citizens moving to Britain "in a big rush to try to grab a set of advantages that we are putting in place for people who have come here expecting us to remain with the European Union for ever".

As a result, those arriving after a set date could be denied an indefinite right to stay in Britain, he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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