Stur­geon more up­beat on

Pol­i­tics: Meet­ing with PM ‘cor­dial’ but present EU bill will be re­jected

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY JEN­NIFER MCKIERNAN WEST­MIN­STER COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Nicola Stur­geon has said agree­ment on Brexit is a step closer af­ter meet­ing the prime min­is­ter at Down­ing Street.

The first min­is­ter last met Theresa May in March, when she said she found it dif­fi­cult to es­tab­lish any rap­port be­cause Mrs May ap­peared to be read­ing from a script.

But, af­ter the lat­est meet­ing, Ms Stur­geon said re­la­tions had thawed and, al­though Holy­rood will still re­ject the EU with­drawal bill as it stands, the foun­da­tions had been laid for changes that could be agreed upon.

She said: “It was cor­dial and con­struc­tive. I think we were both able to set out quite frankly our po­si­tions on the with­drawal bill.

“That doesn’t mean agree­ment will fol­low, but per­haps it pro­vides the con­di­tions now for reach­ing agree­ment.

“I made clear the Scottish Gov­ern­ment wants to find agree­ment ... but I also made clear what our bot­tom lines are.”

Ms Stur­geon also stressed the Scottish Gov­ern­ment agreed some UK frame­works were re­quired, but should be agreed and not im­posed.

She added: “We ac­cept, as we have al­ways done, that frame­works in some ar­eas are nec­es­sary, but they should be reached by agree­ment and not im­posed. The with­drawal bill, as it stands, would not be ac­cept­able and we would not be able to rec­om­mend leg­isla­tive con­sent.

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

A Down­ing Street spokes­woman agreed there had been progress.

She stated: “The prime min­is­ter said 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.

“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

“We would not be able to rec­om­mend leg­isla­tive con­sent”

Gov­ern­ment and other de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions.”

How­ever, Labour’s Les­ley Laird, Shadow Sec­re­tary of State for Scot­land, ar­gued the peo­ple of Scot­land were be­tween a rock and a hard place.

She said: “Scot­land is stuck be­tween two ob­sti­nate gov­ern­ments, nei­ther work­ing in the best in­ter­ests of the na­tion. To­day’s meet­ing un­der­lines that sad real­ity. The first min­is­ter re­fuses to rule out a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, while the prime min­is­ter is in­tent on a race-to-the-bot­tom Brexit that hoards power in West­min­ster.

“Labour is firmly op­posed to a sec­ond di­vi­sive in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, and would de­liver a jobs-first Brexit that passes pow­ers di­rectly from Brus­sels to Holy­rood.”

WARM­ING: Theresa May, left, and Nicola Stur­geon are all smiles ahead of yes­ter­day’s talks at 10 Down­ing Street

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