Stur­geon holds ‘con­struc­tive’ talks with May .. then warns they’re still miles apart

Daily Record - - NEWS - TORCUIL CRICH­TON West­min­ster Editor

NI­COLA STUR­GEON had a “con­struc­tive” and “cor­dial” meet­ing with Theresa May last night – be­fore re­peat­ing threats to block the Prime Min­is­ter’s Brexit plans.

The First Min­is­ter said she was “hope­ful” of a break­through in the dead­lock over whether pow­ers re­turn­ing from Brus­sels should be de­volved straight to Holy­rood or rest in West­min­ster af­ter the UK leaves the EU.

But she in­sisted the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment would not back the Tories’ Brexit plans as they stand.

Emerg­ing from a 30-minute meet­ing with May at No10, Stur­geon said: “I made very clear, as the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have done con­sis­tently, that the With­drawal Bill as it stands would not be ac­cept­able and we’d not be able to rec­om­mend ap­proval of that.

“That re­mains the po­si­tion – but hope­fully hav­ing had the op­por­tu­nity to air the con­cerns that we have in more de­tail, we will be able to see progress in the weeks to come.”

Stur­geon added: “While we didn’t reach agree­ment, I think we de­vel­oped a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of each other’s po­si­tions.

“I made clear that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment want to find agree­ment on the With­drawal Bill.

“We op­pose Brexit but we un­der­stand with­drawal leg­is­la­tion is nec­es­sary, so we want to find agree­ment. But I also made clear what our bot­tom lines are on that Bill.

“Dis­cus­sions will con­tinue and hope­fully we can reach some points of agree­ment in the weeks to come.”

The talks came as the EU With­drawal Bill re­turned to the Com­mons yes­ter­day to be­gin its line-by-line scru­tiny ahead of cru­cial votes.

Both the Scot­tish and Welsh gov­ern­ments con­tinue to refuse con­sent for the Bill un­less West­min­ster sur­ren­der on a “power grab” of EU re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and de­volve them di­rectly to Ed­in­burgh and Cardiff.

Stur­geon also rowed back on SNP MP Tommy Shep­pard’s warn­ing in the Com­mons on Mon­day that the party would press ahead with IndyRef2 if there was no agree­ment over the pow­ers and a hard Brexit loomed.

She said: “He was ar­tic­u­lat­ing the long-stand­ing po­si­tion of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment. We have a mandate for that this ses­sion of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment but I have been very clear we will take no fur­ther de­ci­sion on the tim­ing of any ref­er­en­dum un­til other as­pects of Brexit are clear.”

Stur­geon said there was a warmer at­mos­phere at yes­ter­day’s one-to-one with May, hav­ing de­scribed pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters with the PM as meet­ing some­one read­ing from a script.

The SNP leader said: “That was a bet­ter meet­ing than some meet­ings we had pre­vi­ously – it was cor­dial, it was con­struc­tive.

“We were both able to set out quite frankly our po­si­tions.

“That doesn’t mean agree­ment will fol­low but per­haps it pro­vides con­di­tions to reach agree­ment in the weeks ahead.”

Down­ing Street said May told Stur­geon that “it re­mains her pri­or­ity to pro­vide cer­tainty to busi­nesses and peo­ple both in Scot­land and across the coun­try, as well as pro­tect­ing our UK in­ter­nal mar­ket”.

A spokesman added: “The Prime Min­is­ter re­it­er­ated that as pow­ers are repa­tri­ated from Brus­sels back to Bri­tain, there will be a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing pow­ers for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and other de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions.”

The two lead­ers also dis­cussed pro­ce­dures be­ing put in place af­ter the sex­ual harassment al­le­ga­tions that have plagued West­min­ster and Holy­rood.

Stur­geon said: “While hav­ing ro­bust pro­ce­dures in place, what is im­por­tant is that the un­der­ly­ing cul­ture of sex­ual harassment has to change – and that’s what we all hope will come out of the ex­pe­ri­ences of the last few weeks.”

FAC­ING RE­PORTERS Stur­geon af­ter meet­ing at No10

WARMER AT­MOS­PHERE Be­tween May and Stur­geon

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