Nicola Sturgeon has appealed to MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, saying it was the “only chance” for Westminster to change course and secure a less damaging exit from the EU.
The First Minister said it was still possible for MPs to force the government into a softer Brexit, with just days to go until a crucial EU summit where the UK’s withdrawal agreement must be signed off by European leaders.
She hit out at Mrs May’s Brexit strategy, saying an exit from the EU single market would harm the economy, while a vague politics declaration on the future trade relationship between London and Brussels would leave businesses in limbo.
“This scenario - a ‘blindfold’ Brexit - is in my view completely unacceptable,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“It would replace a no deal Brexit with a no detail Brexit.
“It would keep the public and businesses in the dark. It would leave the long term position with the Irish border unresolved.
“It would require the House of Commons to vote on whether to accept a deal, despite there being no way of knowing what that deal would lead to.
“By delaying key decisions until after we had left the EU, the UK Government would reduce its influence, and diminish its status, just before conducting the most important negotiations in its postwar history.”
The First Minister called for an extension of the post-Brexit transition period, warning that “if the last two years have shown us anything, it is surely that more time will inevitably be needed to agree the future relationship”.
Appealing to MPs to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal, she said: “The UK Government has spent two years asserting that no deal is better than a bad deal.
“They will almost certainly now try to railroad MPs into accepting a bad deal on grounds that no deal would be a catastrophe. “They are threatening us with fire to make us choose the frying pan.”
Ms Sturgeon accepted that her strategy of rejecting the Prime Ministers plans posed a risk of a no-deal Brexit, but said it was the only way to “change track”.
“Voting against a bad deal of a blindfold Brexit deal isn’t a vote for no-deal,” the First Minister said in a speech in London attended by a number of EU ambassadors.
“It would be a vote for a better deal.
“Indeed, voting against a bad or ‘blindfold’ Brexit when the opportunity arises later this year is the only chance the House of Commons will have to reset these negotiations and think again before it is too late.”