Saturday 17 February 2018

May signals Brexit delay until 'all UK agrees'

UK Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh. Photo: Andrew Milligan /PA Wire
UK Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh. Photo: Andrew Milligan /PA Wire

Laura Hughes

New British Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated that Brexit could be delayed as she said she will not trigger the formal process for leaving the EU until there is an agreed "UK approach" backed by Scotland.

Her announcement is likely to infuriate EU chiefs who want the negotiations to begin as quickly as possible.

Confidence: Andrea Leadsom. Photo: Reuters/Paul Hackett
Confidence: Andrea Leadsom. Photo: Reuters/Paul Hackett

Ms May travelled to Scotland to meet Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, and discuss plans for Britain's Brexit negotiation.

In a sign that she is committed to keeping the union intact, she said she will not trigger Article 50 - the formal process for withdrawing from the EU - until all the devolved nations in the country agree.


Her comments will prompt anger from EU leaders, who want Ms May to trigger Article 50 as soon as possible.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Ms May said: "I have already said that I won't be triggering Article 50 until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations. I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger Article 50."

Ms Sturgeon has promised to explore every option to keep Scotland in the EU, and has repeatedly warned that if that is not possible as part of the UK, it is "highly likely" to lead to a second independence vote.

The prime minister said: "As far as I'm concerned, the Scottish people had their vote, they voted in 2014, and a very clear message came through, both the United Kingdom and the Scottish Government said they would abide by that."

Speaking before the meeting, only the third between the pair, she said her visit to Scotland demonstrated her commitment to "preserving this special union that has endured for centuries".

Ms Sturgeon said afterwards that she had received an assurance that the UK Government would be "open and flexible" to options in the forthcoming Brexit process.

She added: "I was very pleased that Theresa May said that she was absolutely willing to consider any options that the Scottish Government now bring forward to secure Scotland's relationship with the European Union, and that the process that now takes shape by the UK Government will be open and flexible and that the Scottish Government will be fully involved in that.

"I have been very clear that we have to make sure that Scotland's interests are protected and I want to examine every option of doing that."

Speaking after the meeting, Nicola Sturgeon said she was determined to protect Scotland's current relationship with the European Union.

She added that the meeting with the new prime minister has been "constructive".

"There is an agreement that Scottish government officials will be very closely involved in discussions," she said.

Ms Sturgeon insisted she would "consider all the options" along the way. "The prime minister knows, as everybody else knows, that a second independence referendum is of course on the table because Scotland finds itself now in the position of facing exit from the EU against our will," she said.


Meanwhile, Labour has called on the new Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom to resign after she suggested men should not be nannies because they might be "paedophiles".

Labour shadow minister Jon Ashworth said: "This is an extraordinarily offensive statement from the new Environment Secretary.

"Andrea Leadsom should apologise immediately and Ms May should also distance herself from these comments."

Ms May's official spokeswoman said Ms May had confidence in the minister, adding: "These were personal views that were expressed, and she, as in Andrea Leadsom, has said that she employed a male nanny for five years, and doesn't think that men, or fathers, shouldn't be nannies."

A spokeswoman for Ms Leadsom said the minister had employed a male nanny and "was not saying that men are unsuitable as nannies."

Irish Independent

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