Theresa May warns Nicola Sturgeon she risks undermining Brexit talks with single market demand

Posted On: 
19th December 2016

Theresa May has warned Nicola Sturgeon that she risks undermining the Brexit negotiations by demanding Scotland remains in the single market even after the UK quits the European Union.

Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon are at loggerheads over the UK's approach to Brexit.
PA Images

The SNP leader will tomorrow outline the Scottish government's demands, with a threat to hold another independence referendum if they are not met.

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister made clear that Mrs May does not support Ms Sturgeon's position, and insisted the UK as a whole must be "unified" as she prepared to trigger Article 50 next year.

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He said: "We are committed as we leave the European Union to getting a deal that works for the UK as a whole. That means a deal that works for Scotland as well.

"We want a deal that allows British firms to have maximum access and freedom to operate within and with the single market and we are of the opinion that we will get the best deal for the UK if the UK is unified in its response. That will maximise the impact of our negotiations.

"The referendum decision was taken by the UK as a whole. The UK as a whole will leave the European Union."

The spokesman added: "We've already made it very clear that the devolved administrations will play an important role as the UK leaves the European Union and that's why we've set up a joint ministerial council.

"We are going to get the best deal as we enter these negotiations for the United Kingdom; that's one that works for all parts of the United Kingdom. As part of that we will continue to work closely with the Scottish government."

Writing in the Financial Times today, Ms Sturgeon said: "If the UK government opts not to remain in the single market, our position is that Scotland should still be supported to do so - not instead of, but in addition to, free trade across the UK."

She added: "It remains my view, and that of the Government I lead, that the best option for Scotland remains full membership of the EU as an independent member state. 

"Independence must remain an option for safeguarding our European status, if it becomes clear that our interests cannot be protected in any other way."