Nicola Sturgeon: Boris Johnson taking UK on 'almost inevitable path' to no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
29th July 2019

Boris Johnson is taking the UK on an "almost inevitable path to a no-deal Brexit", Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Boris Johnson with a grim-faced Nicola Sturgeon outside Bute House.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Scottish first minister spoke out after holding her first face-to-face talks with Mr Johnson since he entered Downing Street last week.

She also insisted that "the people of Scotland should be able to chart their own course" by having the chance to vote for independence rather than join the rest of the UK in leaving the European Union.

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Mr Johnson, who had earlier visited the Faslane naval base, was jeered by protesters as he walked to the front door of Bute House, Ms Sturgeon's official residence in Edinburgh.

After around an hour of talks, he then left by the back door in order to dodge the crowd still waiting outside.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister had made clear to the SNP leader that Brexit will happen on 31 October "come what may".

But Ms Sturgeon said: "It became clear to me that this government, the new Prime Minister, has set the UK on an almost inevitable path to a no-deal Brexit.

"The position it has taken makes it very difficult to see how any deal can be struck with the EU and I think that would be catastrophic for Scotland and indeed for the whole of the UK.

"I made abundantly clear to Boris Johnson my opposition to Brexit and to no-deal. I also made it clear to him that the people of Scotland should be able to chart their own course and choose their own future, not have that future imposed upon them."

She added: "He says he wants to get a deal, but what is not clear to me is how he intends to get from the very hardline, fixed position that he's taken to a position where a deal is possible, if the EU also sticks to the very consistent position it has taken.

"That is where there is no clarity at all. That makes me think that whatever Boris Johnson is saying about his preference being to strike a deal, in reality he is pursuing a no-deal Brexit, because that is the logic of the hardline position he is taking."

A Number 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister said he was a passionate believer in the power of the Union and he would work tirelessly to strengthen the United Kingdom and improve the lives of people right across Scotland.

"On Brexit, the Prime Minister said that while the Government’s preference is to negotiate a new deal which abolishes the anti-democratic backstop, the UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October come what may.

"The PM set out the scale of work underway to prepare for our departure and also offered to hold a joint ministerial committee soon so that he can work with the devolved administrations to make sure all corners of the UK are ready to enjoy a bright future outside of the EU."

On Ms Sturgeon's independence comments, a Number 10 source said: "People in Scotland voted no in the indyref in 2014. Nicola Sturgeon said she would respect that result.

"And five years on, most people in Scotland do not want to go back to another divisive referendum on independence. The UK Govt believes referendum results should be respected, and Nicola Sturgeon should do the same."

RUTH DAVIDSON

Earlier, Mr Johnson had met Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson at the Scottish Parliament just a day after she had made clear she would noto support a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking after their meeting, she said: "The Prime Minister has made clear that the Government's preference is to leave the European Union with a deal. I back him wholeheartedly in that aim.

"Indeed, all 13 Scottish Conservative MPs backed a deal the last time one was presented in the House of Commons - as did the Prime Minister."

Ms Davidson also called on the SNP to ditch their opposition to a Brexit deal.