Nicola Sturgeon has again spoken out against the “extreme Brexit” being pursued by the Prime Minister – with the Scottish First Minister warning it will leave future generations to “bear the brunt of another right-wing ideological experiment”.
The SNP leader insisted Conservative plans to remove the UK not only from the European Union but from the customs union and the single market as well represented a “comprehensive victory for the hard Brexiteers” within the Tory Party.
Such a move would see the UK suffer a “substantial economic hit”, she said, as she argued the country should seek to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA) in an arrangement similar to Norway.
Ms Sturgeon spoke out ahead of the latest in a series of talks between the UK Government and the devolved administrations – with politicians in both Edinburgh and Cardiff having repeatedly claimed the flagship EU Withdrawal Bill is a Westminster “power grab”.
Writing in the Scotsman newspaper she insisted: “The UK government’s EU Withdrawal Bill must be changed to protect devolution – anything less will simply confirm the impression of an arrogant Tory government which now thinks it can do what it wants to Scotland and get away with it.”
The First Minister – who will raise the issue with Theresa May in talks next week – said the Scottish and Welsh governments were “resisting Tory plans to take control of devolved powers as part of their Brexit package”.
She added: “The danger for the next generation is that they will bear the brunt of another right-wing ideological experiment.”
Ms Sturgeon went on: “Brexit was comprehensively rejected by the people of Scotland, and there is even less support for the extreme Brexit now being pursued by the Prime Minister.
“Theresa May’s speech last Friday confirmed that her government wants to take Scotland and the rest of the UK out of the single market. She also said the UK should no longer be part of the EU customs union – which guarantees tariff-free trade among its members and allows Scotland to take advantage of trade deals with more than 50 countries.”
But she claimed that plan had been “largely rejected by the EU” as she warned that the UK still faces the “very real danger of a catastrophic ‘no deal’ outcome” to Brexit negotiations.
The process of the UK leaving the EU has been “driven by internal Conservative Party interests”, Ms Sturgeon added, claiming that “jobs, living standards and the interests of Scotland have barely featured”.
The First Minister said: “The Scottish Government, in line with the overwhelming majority in Scotland, supports full EU membership. Short of that, the best way to minimise the damage is to stay within the single market and customs union.
“If the Prime Minister was able to unshackle herself from the hard-line Brexiteers currently dictating policy, she could aim for membership of the European Economic Area, meaning the UK could remain inside the single market, rather than having to negotiate its way back in – and then only partially so – through a complex series of arrangements.”