Theresa May has said she won’t “shy away” from tough conversations with devolved nations over Brexit as she prepares to meet Nicola Sturgeon for the latest round of talks today.
The First Minister goes into today’s meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) in Cardiff with demands for a separate Brexit deal for Scotland undermined by a new poll that shows support for an early second independence referendum steadily falling away.
The Panelbase survey shows just 27% of voters asked want a second referendum before the UK leaves the EU, down from 47% in June. Over a third hose who voted Yes in the 2014 independence referendum told pollsters they want to leave the EU.
Overall support for independence is at 46%. The findings will rob the First Minister of ammunition as she calls for Scotland to be allowed to stay in the single market.
Ms Sturgeon warned “time is running out” for the UK Government to win the backing of devolved administrations ahead of a deadline to formally trigger Brexit by the end of March.
“It is becoming clearer with every day that passes that the UK Government is determined to pursue a hard Brexit and I am determined to do all I can to protect Scotland’s from the devastating impact that would have,” the First Minister said.
“The Prime Minister must start to demonstrate not only that the UK government is genuinely listening to the views of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but also that they are prepared to act on them in order to reach the UK position that she said she was committed to.”
But in a pointed message ahead of today’s meeting, Mrs May called on all sides to show “certainty and leadership” to ensure the whole UK gets a good deal from the EU.
“We will not agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean we will shy away from the necessary conversations and I hope we will have further constructive discussions today,” the Prime Minister said. “We have also had the Supreme Court judgement which made clear beyond doubt that relations with the EU are a matter for the UK Government and UK Parliament.”
At the last JMC meeting, the UK government agreed to pass proposals for a ‘differentiated’ Scottish Brexit deal to civil servants for scrutiny, despite ministers playing down the prospect of a separate deal.