Nicola Sturgeon says deal ‘can be done’ to reach Brexit powers agreement

Posted On: 
15th March 2018

Nicola Sturgeon has said the stalemate over what happens to powers relating to devolved areas when they return from Brussels after Brexit could be settled in the coming weeks.

Nicola Sturgeon speaking outside Number 10 yesterday
PA Images

The Scottish First Minister said differences between the UK and devolved regions are "not insignificant, but neither are they insurmountable", following a meeting with Theresa May in Downing Street.

Her Welsh counterpart, Carwyn Jones, who was also at the meeting, said he was "hopeful" a resolution would be found in the "next few days".

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The marked change of tone comes after months of accusations from Edinburgh and Cardiff that Westminster was mounting a "power grab", while a recently leaked document found ministers were set to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill even without Scottish and Welsh support. 

Cabinet Secretary David Lidington argued that the move to put 24 areas under London control immediately after the UK leaves the EU would avoid short-term confusion in areas such as food hygiene, chemicals and animal welfare.

Following yesterday’s crunch talks, Ms Sturgeon said it was a "very important issue of principle" for Holyrood, but that an agreement with the UK would be possible.

"We can't have our powers restricted or reduced without the consent of the Scottish Parliament," she said.

"I believe there are ways we can abide by that principle while still addressing some of the concerns of the UK government.

She added: "I think a deal can be done. There is still some way to go, but there is a willingness, indeed a determination, to see if we can get there."

Mrs May yesterday pledged a settlement that would “that delivers an unprecedented democratic dividend” for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland".