Nicola Sturgeon has been told to forget the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum as a row broke out with a senior UK cabinet minister over claims of a “talks” snub.
David Lidington, UK Cabinet Office minister, said Ms Sturgeon rejected talks during a visit to Scotland today - but this was branded “outrageous” by Ms Sturgeon.
The UK minister also made it clear that the EU Withdrawal deal struck by Mrs May is final, despite claims from the First Minister that it could still be renegotiated after being roundly derided by critics.
Mr Lidington, the Prime Minister’s de facto No2, was in Edinburgh this morning to meet with financial services chiefs and insisted businesses want the certainty of a deal with the EU after Brexit.
He claimed that he had sought a meeting with the First Minister ahead of the visit but this was rejected.
But it prompted an angry response from Ms Sturgeon on social media.
“This is outrageous,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“My office got a call around 6pm last night to offer a meeting this morning - purpose not clear. I wasn’t prepared to cancel my constituency commitments at such short notice for @scotgov to yet again have to hear empty platitudes rather than be listened to .”
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs at Holyrood yesterday that she will set out her plans to stage a second referendum on independence when the outcome of the current Brexit deal is finalised. But Westminster has authority over the constitution and the UK Government has so far ruled out the prospect of a second referendum being staged.
“I don’t see any sign of the UK Government’s approach changing. We feel that that issue was settled when the Scottish people voted last time round. It was going to be, I think Mr Salmond said once in a generation opportunity to resolve he independence question.
“I’m not a Scot so I speak with caution about Scottish things but what I read in your papers and when I dip into your broadcasts is grave concern in Scotland about the health service, about school standards, about productivity and growth and I would’ve though there’s plenty of work for the Scottish Government to be doing there.”
The SNP leader has stated that her MPs will vote against the Brexit deal struck this week because it freezes Scotlnad out of the EU single market and customs union, but Mr Lidington applealed for a shift in this position.
“Overall this is a package that will work for the prosperity and security for everybody in Scotland and for everybody in the whole of the UK.
“There will be an important choice for the Scottish Government and for Scottish members of Parliament at Westminster.
“Employers in all sectors want a deal and they want the stability and the certainty and the clarity that that will bring
“I hope very mich that despite the differences that do exist and which I respect that the First Miniser will in the end decide to put the interests of Scottish business and living standards and prosperity in Scotland first and support this deal.”
And he warned it’s a case of “take it or leave it” over the deal, despite Ms Sturgeon suggestions last night that a better agreement could still be negotiated.
“It’s become very clear from what Chancellor Merkel has said and from that Édouard Philippe the French Prime Minister has said that this is the deal that is on offer,” he added.
“And that they have both have said very plainly that they are simply not going to go back, after the months that has been spent in negotiating this compromise, to reopen this and start again.
“What we have on the table is a package which offers really good prospects for business, for employment, investment Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom.