Brexit: SNP slam May’s deal amid lukewarm reaction in Westminster

Mike Russell criticised the proposals. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Mike Russell criticised the proposals. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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The SNP’s Brexit Secretary Michael Russell has taken aim at the changes Theresa May has secured on her Brexit deal, as signs point to another rejection by MPs.

The Prime Minister insisted she has secured “legally binding” changes to the Brexit deal to win the backing of MPs after meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker.

READ MORE: Theresa May secures ‘legally binding’ EU deal

However, Mr Russell said in a pair of tweets this morning: “May’s #Brexit “deal” - which has changed not a jot despite weeks of pretence - remains a thoroughly bad deal for Scotland, devastating our labour market, placing us at a competitive disadvantage, ignoring our vote to stay in the #EU & refusing to allow the people to be heard.

“It is not “improved”, the “changes” are cosmetic & not “legally binding” , the “instructions” are likely to have changed if you would only listen & Scotland has been contemptuously ignored by you. No MP who represents a Scottish constituency could with any conscience vote for it”

EU figures pressed MPs to back the vote, with Irish premier Leo Varadkar saying in a morning press conference: ““Irish citizens in NI will continue to be citizens of EU no matter what happens. A positive vote tonight can remove the cloud and restore confidence.

READ MORE: Downing Street says Brexit will go ahead

“We need to see Withdrawal Agreement ratified by Westminster. We need to give MPs time and space to discuss what’s on the table.”

However his comments that the changes do not alter the controversial backstop are likely to enrage certain Brexiteers and the DUP, who said in a statement on Monday evening: “These publications need careful analysis. We will be taking appropriate advice, scrutinising the text line by line and forming our own judgment.

“We will measure this latest text against the Brady amendment, and the commitments made by the Prime Minister of 29 January.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs who rejected the deal the first time round, told the BBC: “It’s too early to tell definitively, but it’s clearly a step in the right direction.

“It’s important to see the details, but the DUP’s support would be a very important and significant factor.”

The ‘Independent Group’s’ Chris Leslie said the Government’s “Brexit fudge fools nobody”.

“They can’t reconcile the irreconcilable objectives of ditching Single Market & Customs Union... while keeping Irish border open & frictionless.”

- Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the outcome of Mrs May’s meeting with Mr Juncker showed the Brexit negotiations were in disarray.

“Midnight flits to Strasbourg and desperate late night Commons statements underline the chaos into which Project Brexit has descended,” he tweeted.