Sturgeon hopes for progress after talks
But tells PM withdrawal legislation unacceptable in its present form
Nicola Sturgeon has told Theresa May the EU Withdrawal Bill is not acceptable to the Scottish Government in its current form.
After talks at 10 Downing Street, the Scottish First Minister said no agreement on the way forward for Brexit was reached, but held out prospects of differences being ironed out in the weeks to come.
The devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales have branded the legislation – which began its committee stage in the House of Commons yesterday – a “power grab”, as it would return responsibilities in areas such as agriculture from Brussels to London.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister told Ms Sturgeon her priority was “to provide certainty to businesses and people in Scotland and across the country, as well as protecting our UK internal market”.
The Scottish First Minister has characterised the 45 minutes of talks as “constructive and cordial”.
But she added: “I made very clear, as the Scottish Government has done consistently, that the Withdrawal Bill as it stands would not be acceptable and we would 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.
Ms 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 wants 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.”
In discussions on Brexit, Downing Street said the PM told Ms 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: “They spoke about progress in agreeing principles on common frameworks at the recent Joint Ministerial Committee, and 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 Prime Minister encouraged the Scottish Government to continue to work with counterparts to secure the best outcome for the people of Scotland and the whole of the UK.”
Ms Sturgeon said Mrs May’s decision to put the date and time of Brexit on to the face of the Withdrawal Bill was not “sensible”.
The pair also discussed the recent wave of allegations of improper conduct and sexual harassment in politics north and south of the border, and agreed that such behaviour was “completely unacceptable”, said Number 10.