Theresa May to meet Nicola Sturgeon for Brexit talks in first visit as Prime Minister
Theresa May is today set to meet Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh in her first visit since becoming Prime Minister.
Mrs May said she is making the trip to demonstrate her “commitment to preserving the special union” and to show her government is on the side of Scots.
The leaders will discuss options to protect Scottish interests as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.
According to reports, Mrs May is expected to say that she wants the Scottish Government to play a key role in negotiations with the EU.
The Prime Minister said: “I believe with all my heart in the United Kingdom – the precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This visit to Scotland is my first as Prime Minister and I’m coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries.
“And I want to say something else to the people of Scotland too: the Government I lead will always be on your side. Every decision we take, every policy we take forward, we will stand up for you and your family – not the rich, the mighty or the powerful.
“That’s because I believe in a union, not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens. Whether it’s reforming the economy or strengthening our society, we are going to build a better Britain and a nation that works for everyone – not just the privileged few.”
The Scottish First Minister is seeking a separate deal with EU leaders to preserve Scotland’s EU membership after the majority of Scots backed remaining in the bloc.
Speaking ahead of Mrs May’s visit, Mrs Strugeon said she hoped to encounter an “open-minded and constructive” counterpart about the options available for Scotland.
"For those who still believe in the UK I think the onus is on them to prove it can still protect and defend Scotland's interests,” she told Reporting Scotland.
"Now, I am determined to find the best ways of protecting Scotland's interests and I'm prepared to work to see if we can find options within the UK context and the UK process that will now take place to do that.
"I've been very open that it may well be that if we want to protect those interests the best or the only option will be to consider whether we want to become an independent country.
"That's a decision that Scotland would have to take if we get there, but I'm open to examining all options."
Yesterday, Chancellor Philip Hammond poured cold water on the prospect of Scotland having a different relationship with the EU while inside the UK.
He said Scotland’s best future was “inside the United Kingdom economy”, despite Scots backing staying in the EU in June’s referendum.
“It means that however we voted, we are part of the United Kingdom and we have democratic decisions made across the United Kingdom and we will now implement the decision that the people of the United Kingdom collectively have made to leave the European Union,” he said.
Today’s visit is Mrs May’s first since becoming Prime Minister on Wednesday.
Yesterday she unveiled wholesale changes to the Cabinet team, with Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, John Whittingdale and Stephen Crabb all departing.