Thursday

29th Sep 2016

Scottish concerns could delay UK's EU exit talks

  • Theresa May's (l) first travel as PM was to meet Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon (r) (Photo: First Minister of Scotland)

British prime minister Theresa May said Friday (15 July) that she would trigger article 50 of the EU treaty on exiting the bloc only when there is a UK-wide approach to the talks.

She spoke in Edinburgh after having met with Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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"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," May said.

"I'm willing to listen to options and I've been very clear with the first minister today that I want the Scottish government to be fully engaged in our discussions," she added.

The majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU on 23 June and Sturgeon had earlier warned that it was "highly likely" there might be a new referendum on Scottish independence so that it could stay in Europe.

She has also said Scotland should play a role in the EU exit negotiations to try to secure special terms.

But it remained unclear on Friday how that would work in practice.

May’s visit on Friday was intended to show her commitment to keeping the UK intact and to calm Scottish nerves.

Asked about a possible new Scottish independence vote, she said Scottish people had sent a clear message in 2014 when they voted to remain part of the UK.

"We now have the challenge though, as the United Kingdom, to ensure that we can get the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom from the EU negotiations when the UK leaves the EU," May said.

Sturgeon welcomed the UK government's flexibility.

"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," she said.

She added: "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."

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexit: preparing for a bitter divorce

Conservatives Brexiteers and Labour leadership are increasingly leaning away from the Norwegian-style deal with the EU, towards a UK-specific arrangement.

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