Nicola Sturgeon: Hard Brexit is 'dead in the water'
Nicola Sturgeon today claimed that Theresa May's plans for a hard Brexit were "dead in the water" as she demanded she be given a say on the impending negotiations with Brussels.
The SNP leader also cast doubt on the Prime Minister's ability to "put together a functioning government" as she tries to strike a deal with the DUP.
Ms Sturgeon was speaking as she visited Westminster for the first time since last week's election.
While the Conservatives lost their Commons majority, the number of SNP MPs also plummeted from 54 to 35 on a disappointing night for the Nationalists.
Scotland's First Minister was applauded by her depleted band of MPs when she arrived at Westminster this afternoon.
She said: "Can the Prime Minister put together a functioning government? I think there's a lot of concern about the prospect of a Tory government propped up by the DUP, and today's news that the Queen's Speech is going to be delayed raises further concerns about what's being cooked up behind closed doors.
"Number 10 has been operating, I think to the bemusement of everybody across the country, as if nothing has changed in the election. Everything has changed.
"Hard Brexit is now off the table and has to be off the table. The idea that Brexit can continue to be cooked up by a Tory cabal is no longer acceptable."
Ms Sturgeon added: "The Tory-cabal-cooking-up-a-hard-Brexit approach is dead in the water and I think the Prime Minister must recognise it.
"She’s got to include more people in this process – different parties, all of the nations of the UK – and I think it must be an approach that starts with a determination to retain our place in the single market because that’s right for jobs and investment.
"It’s in all of our interests to make sure that jobs and investment and living standards in every part of the UK are prioritised.
"Now, I’ve almost banged my head off the brick wall of Downing Street over the last year trying to get the Prime Minister to have a UK-wide approach, to include not just the Scottish Government but the Welsh Government and the Northern Irish when it was still in existence, and she’s refused to do that.
“And I think she’s paying the price for that intransigence; she went to the country asking for a mandate for hard Brexit and the country, frankly, told her where to go.
"So I think there has to be a change in approach. Firstly, involve more people; this is something that affects every corner of the UK and therefore every voice in the UK has to be listened to.
"But let’s be sensible about it: leaving the EU should not mean sacrificing jobs, it shouldn’t mean sacrificing people’s living standards. Let’s resolve that we want to stay in the single market, stay in the customs union because that makes sense for the economy."
However, Ms Sturgeon again refused to say that she will definitely take the prospect of a second independence referendum off the table in light of last week's election result.
She said: "I understand the frustrations that journalists feel when politicians take time to consider and reflect, but that's the right thing to do.
"There's been lots of analysis of the election result - some of it I agree with, some I don't agree with. I'm going to take to reflect and discuss with colleagues in the Westminster group and at Holyrood."