Theresa May tells Nicola Sturgeon: UK is four times more important to Scottish economy than EU

Posted On: 
15th January 2018

Theresa May has hit back at Nicola Sturgeon's claims that Brexit will be disastrous for Scotland, insisting that the UK is four times more important than the EU to the Scottish economy.

Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May in Glasgow last year.
PA Images

The first minister published a report which claimed leaving the European single market and customs union will cost Scotland £12.7bn a year.

According to the Scottish government analysis, GDP north of the Border would be 8.5% lower by 2030 than if the UK had remained a full member of the EU.

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Ms Sturgeon said: "For the sake of jobs, the economy and the next generation, today we are calling on the UK Government to drop its hard Brexit red-lines so that Scotland and the UK can stay inside the single market and customs union."

But a spokesman for Mrs May hit back at the SNP leader, insisting it was the UK economy which had the greatest impact on prosperity in Scotland.

He said: "The Prime Minister has made clear her commitment to getting a good deal which serves the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom and that we are confident of doing so. I'd also point out the vital importance that we protect the UK economy, which is worth around £48bn to Scotland, and that's four times as much as that of the EU. Also worth pointing out that the UK economy supports four times as many jobs compared to the EU.

"We are carrying out extensive preparations in relation to delivering Brexit and the will of the British people."

Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon suggested Mrs May could even have left Downing Street by the time Brexit is due to happen next year.

She also accused Jeremy Corbyn of "misleading" voters by claiming the UK cannot stay in the single market after Brexit.

"Who knows if Theresa May will even be Prime Minister by the time these negotiations conclude," she said. "There are voices within the Conservative Party that would argue for a softer Brexit and for single market membership, but, put that to one side, there is, I believe, a majority, outside of the Conservative Party.

"I think the bigger issue in order to get that majority, is to get Jeremy Corbyn off of the ridiculous position he is in. Either Jeremy Corbyn is still misunderstanding the position of single market, which given how often it has been pointed out to him can’t possibly be the case, or he is trying to deliberately mislead people with this line that you cannot be in the single market if you are not in the EU. I mean Norway stands as the living proof that that is just not the case.

"So the forces within Labour in this direction are getting louder and I believe that majority is there. The House of Commons can, if it chooses to, decide not to allow Theresa May to go down the road that is in her narrow party political interest and instead forge a path that is in the interests of the country overall.”