Brexit: Sturgeon urges government to ‘get real’ in trade talks
Ms Sturgeon and her Constitution Secretary sparked a furious response from Scottish Tories as well as insiders close to Boris Johnson who branded her comments “wholly inappropriate”. Earlier the First Minister of Scotland cast doubt over the UK Government’s prospect of securing a Brexit trade deal by the end of the transition period.
Ms Sturgeon during Monday’s coronavirus briefing said she was “increasingly concerned” about the prospect of the transition period ending on December 31 with “no trade deal agreed between the UK and EU”.
Her comments were echoed by Constitution Secretary Michael Russell who said it was “inconceivable” the SNP would vote for any Brexit deal in the House of Commons that gave away rights Scotland had “enjoyed” while part of the EU.
Scottish Conservative Brexit and Constitution spokesperson Dean Lockhart MSP accused the SNP of attempting to sabotage UK talks.
He told Express.co.uk: “Mike Russell reveals yet again the SNP’s destructive true colours by refusing to back any Brexit deal no matter how positive it may be for the people of Scotland.
“The nationalists are desperate for these talks to fail because they believe it would fuel their ideological and highly damaging pursuit of breaking up the UK.”
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Meanwhile, a No 10 source said the Scottish First Minister’s comments were “not supporting” the “difficult situation” in the ongoing talks.
The source added: “Nicola Sturgeon’s comments are wholly inappropriate, we are negotiating with the EU to secure a deal.”
It comes as Boris Johns and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to a meeting in Brussels after a lengthy telephone call to take stock of the faltering negotiations
Despite the commitment to a face-to-face meeting, the pair acknowledged significant differences remained with time running out before current trading arrangements expire at the end of the month.
Express.co.uk understands there is a “febrile mood” surrounding the negotiations especially on the thorny issue of future fishing rights along with governance and the so-called level-playing field.
One Whitehall source also told this website: “The situation is difficult at the moment and there are chances a deal might not be secured.”
Any deal would need to be ratified by Westminster and the European Parliament but Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said the SNP would refuse to vote for any trade deal.
Mr Russell said it was “inconceivable” that the SNP would vote for any Brexit deal in the House of Commons, despite saying the UK Government should come to an arrangement with the EU for the future beyond the transition period.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the Constitution Secretary added the Scottish Government was preparing to discuss its no deal planning for a third time tomorrow.
He continued: “Having said that, and I am certainly no fan of Brexit at all, it is better to have some sort of arrangement than no sort of arrangement.
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“Because with no sort of arrangement it is impossible to say what will happen next.”
Saying the SNP would not vote for a deal if the Prime Minister brought it to the House of Commons, Mr Russell added: “It would be extraordinary if we were voting to give away all the rights that we have and all the things we have enjoyed for almost 50 years.
“That would be inconceivable.”
Speaking during the Scottish Government Coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: “Any trade deal that is likely to be agreed at this stage is going to be quite a bare-bones minimalist agreement so we are anticipating some disruption and inconvenience anyway.
“That will clearly be much, much worse if there is no agreement at all.
“I very much hope that we will see breakthroughs on these talks literally over the course of today in order to be more optimistic about the prospects.”
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