Nicola Sturgeon: Brexit deal must be backed by UK parliaments

Nicola Sturgeon, Northern Ireland Deputy FM Martin McGuinness, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones. Picture: PA
Nicola Sturgeon, Northern Ireland Deputy FM Martin McGuinness, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones. Picture: PA
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has backed calls for any future Brexit deal to be backed by all four parliaments and assemblies in the UK.

At an emergency British-Irish Council summit, Ms Sturgeon welcomed a suggestion by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones that the deal should be supported by Holyrood, the Welsh Assembly, Stormont and Westminster.

Her insistence that the process of Leaving should be given Scottish Parliamentary approval will fuel fears that Ms Sturgeon could hold the rest of the UK to ransom when it comes to triggering Brexit.

But Ms Sturgeon also found herself at loggerheads with the Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, who said the UK-wide vote to Leave the EU had to be respected.

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Both Scotland and Northern Ireland returned majorities for Remain, a position which led to Ms Sturgeon saying Scotland’s relationship with the EU must be protected and renewing calls for a second independence referendum.

But Ms Foster, whose Democratic Unionist Party backed Brexit, was adamant “the decision to leave was a UK-wide one and we have to respect it”.

The summit in Cardiff was called by Mr Jones in response to the Brexit vote. Like England, Wales recorded a Leave vote. Mr Jones said Article 50 – the legal process by which member states quit the EU – had to be triggered before next summer. Otherwise, Mr Jones said, there was a risk Leave voters would think the result was being ignored.

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Mr Jones added, however, that any deal should be approved by all three devolved administrations as well as Westminster. The Welsh First Minister said they could not be “mere consultees” and had to be “very much part of that negotiation”.

Ms Sturgeon said Mr Jones had made a “very legitimate suggestion” that the decision to invoke Article 50 “should require approval in all parliaments in all devolved administrations”.

She described the talks as very “frank and very robust” and said she would ensure Scotland played a full part in the Brexit discussions.

The First Minister also alluded to her threat to hold another independence referendum, saying if a solution that took into account Scotland’s view could not be found then other options would be considered.

“We are in unprecedented times. Andwe have to be prepared to think about unprecedented solutions,” she said.