Brexit: UK Attorney General dismisses Scottish Remain vote

SCOTLAND has no veto over Brexit negotiation plans and will leave the European Union along with the rest of the country, the attorney general has said.

European Union flag outside Holyrood.
European Union flag outside Holyrood.

Jeremy Wright dismissed claims from the SNP that a separate deal preserving Scotland’s EU membership could be struck with Brussels from within the UK, insisting that Brexit applied to “all of the United Kingdom”.

Mr Wright told MPs there was no need for the UK government to get approval from the Scottish Parliament before triggering the formal exit process from the EU.

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The House of Commons heard fears from Brexit-supporting Tory backbenchers that the UK could be “held to ransom” by the SNP if too much power over negotiations with the EU was handed to Scotland.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright insists all of UK will leave EU. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

In Paris for talks with François Hollande last night, Theresa May was urged to clarify exactly what sort of deal the UK would be looking for as soon as possible, with the French president warning that “uncertainty is the greatest danger”.

Following talks in Edinburgh with Nicola Sturgeon, Ms May pledged to listen to options ahead of activating Article 50 next year, but has since dismissed Scottish membership of the EU as “impracticable”.

However, the SNP continues to demand respect for Scotland’s vote in favour of the EU, with one senior party source claiming the UK government was leaving itself sufficient “wiggle room” to allow a separate Scottish deal.

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SNP mocks Theresa May over '˜Brexit means Brexit' position
Attorney General Jeremy Wright insists all of UK will leave EU. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Mr Wright was asked in Parliament by SNP MP Martyn Day: “The Prime Minister has stated that Brexit means Brexit, and the First Minister of Scotland has stated that for us, remain means remain. Do you agree that the Scottish people have spoken and therefore their sovereignty should be respected?” Mr Wright replied: “The people of the United Kingdom have spoken and their sovereignty must be respected.

“The decision as to whether to leave the EU is a decision that the people of the UK have made and we will respect their decision.”

SNP MP Alison Thewliss persisted, saying: “The Prime Minister has indicated that she will not trigger Article 50 in the UK until there is a UK approach to Brexit. Do you agree that a legislative consent motion is required before the government has legal authority to trigger Article 50?”

Mr Wright said there would be “consultation most certainly, but veto I’m afraid not”.

Tory MP David Nuttall said he was happy for talks with Holyrood to take place, but added: “What concerns me is that we don’t finish up being held to ransom by the Scottish Nationalists.

“The point is that whatever the government try and do they will never be able to satisfy the Scottish Nationalists.”

Mr Nuttall appealed that the wishes of his constituents “not be frustrated by the Scottish National Party”.

There was further debate on Scotland’s post-Brexit future at Westminster yesterday, with Labour MP Ian Murray calling for the result of both the 2014 independence poll and the EU referendum to be respected.

“The destination for me and the Scottish Labour Party, and the Labour Party as a whole, is to make sure that Scotland’s position in the UK is assured, but that we don’t lose sight of the advantages that we get from the European Union,” he said.

“Those are the two mandates the Scottish people have given us, and to disregard one mandate for the other would be wrong.”

The SNP’s Ian Blackford said Scotland’s future “remains as a European nation”, warning that “if it becomes clear that Scottish independence is the best and only way to achieve that, then that is an option that Scotland has to have”.

Fellow Nationalist Stewart McDonald condemned “Brexit masochists” who had “utterly ruined politics”, and said the response of the Establishment to the Brexit vote had been “shambolic”.