Nicola Sturgeon: There’s still time to stop Brexit

Leo Varadkar and Nicola Sturgeon speak after the British Irish Council summit meeting in ManchesterLeo Varadkar and Nicola Sturgeon speak after the British Irish Council summit meeting in Manchester
Leo Varadkar and Nicola Sturgeon speak after the British Irish Council summit meeting in Manchester
The First Minister today claimed there was still time for the UK to change course and prevent the negative consequences of Brexit by remaining in the EU.

Nicola Sturgeon said the option of a second referendum on the subject remained open after attending a meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) alongside the First Minister of Wales, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Theresa May’s deputy David Liddington.

Earlier Ms Sturgeon had issued a joint statement with Welsh leader Mark Drakeford in which they expressed alarm at “increased hard-line rhetoric about a no deal Brexit”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Speaking to reporters after the summit, the SNP leader said there was now a “real danger” of a no-deal “crash out” becoming “inevitable” - and it was “futile” to waste time trying to re-negotiate.

Read More
Boris Johnson ‘to slash taxes’ in no deal Brexit budget

“I think there’s a real danger right now, the positioning of the contenders for leadership of Tory Party starts to make no deal inevitable, she said.

“I think there’s an alternative to no deal, which is no Brexit through a second referendum, but there’s a danger we end up on a path to no deal that’s very difficult to stop and that is of significant concern.

“I do think a responsible government and responsible prime minister would make clear that avoiding no deal is an absolute priority, and would not allow UK to crash out of the EU with no deal.

“What I think we should all seek to avoid is further time being wasted in this process with a futile attempt to re-open and re-negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, when the European Union has, and I work on David’s comment that he takes them at their word, because I think it’s very dangerous to continue to waste time assuming something can be achieved that the European Union has made very clear, can’t be achieved.”

Both Ms Sturgeon and Mr Varadkar said economic assessments forecast rising unemployment and negative consequences for growth and government budgets in their countries if the UK leaves without a deal.

The Taoiseach added: “No one is really going to know for sure what the extent of harm will be or how it will play out.”

Both were asked if Brexit could be stopped during a press conference at the end of the summit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Varadkar said: “Well whether Brexit is stopped or not isn’t my business, that’s a decision for Parliament and the people of the United Kingdom.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Yes I do think Brexit can still be stopped. Let’s be frank about it, time is running out, but if we get and this would be a pre-requisite of this, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party into an unequivocal position of supporting a second referendum, then I think the conditions start to be there for a majority for a second referendum in the House of Commons - and that is the route to stopping Brexit.

“Of course you can’t take for granted what the outcome of a second referendum would be, but that is the route to stop it.

“Certainly from the discussions I’ve had in Brussels in recent times, it’s very clear to me that there’s a significant possibility or probability that the only way of getting a further extension beyond the 31st of October would be for some public democratic process like a referendum or perhaps a general election.”

Mr Lidington said both Tory-leadership contenders, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have said they do not want a no-deal Brexit, and it is important to “take their word on that”.

He also said it was “very clear” tariffs and checks would be applied to UK trade, “on day one” of a “no-deal crash out”.