Nicola Sturgeon: Theresa May must ‘concede’ to joining customs union to break Brexit deadlock
Nicola Sturgeon has called on Theresa May to ditch the Government’s ‘unsustainable’ position of keeping the UK outside a customs union after Brexit in order for negotiations to progress.
Scotland’s First Minister said failure to reach a position that would allow a frictionless border in Ireland while being outside the trade bloc had shown the UK's demands to be “irreconcilable”.
“To cut to the chase, reality at some point has to bite for the UK. Currently the Government is trying to reconcile a whole plethora of irreconcilable issues,” she told an event hosted by Politico in Brussels.
“At some point it has to choose and at the point it has to choose I believe there is a positive prospect that that choice, because of the dynamic in the House of Commons and in the country more generally, that that will take us in the direction of the customs union and the single market.
“If that’s coming eventually I think the sooner we get to that point the better for everybody and the more certainty we give to businesses and organisations who are desperately wanting that."
She added: “I think the only credible and sustainable option for the UK here is to remain within a customs union and it’s a question of whether they concede that now or are forced to concede that later in my view.”
“My view is if they concede it now then we might start to see some progress in these talks and that would be better than waiting until later.”
Ms Sturgeon’s comments came after a meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, where she raised concerns over a deal that would potentially hand Northern Ireland an advantage through closer ties to the customs union and single market.
“I was very clear with Michel Barnier this morning that I wanted to see not just Scotland but the UK as a whole remaining in the single market, that’s the position the Scottish government has taken all along,” she said.
“I want to see a resolution to the Northern Irish issues, because not just in terms of trade, there’s a whole range of other implications around the restoration of a border in Ireland that nobody wants to see Ireland go back to.
“But if there is a situation where Northern Ireland has a different relationship with the single market of course that raises additional issues for Scotland, and I think raises a whole lot of issues for the UK government to agree to a separate relationship with the EU for Northern Ireland which is why they’re in such a mess around these negotiations at the moment.”