SNP MPs at Westminster will vote against the Article 50 to trigger Brexit and the “clock is ticking” towards a second independence referendum, Scotland Brexit minister Michael Russell has said.
He insisted the 54 Nationalist MPs would not back the “inward-looking and isolationist” vision of the UK which was set out by the Prime Minister last week as she unveiled plans for a “hard Brexit”.
It came as Labour deputy leader John McDonnell indicated that the party would back Article 50 if a “sensible compromise” position could be reached.
The UK Supreme Court will rule tomorrow whether parliament should be required to approve Article 50. The government is appealing a recent High Court ruling which said MPs and peers must have a say.
The Prime Minister has made clear her intention to take the UK out of the single market when it leaves the European Union – with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warning in response this “undoubtedly” makes a second independence referendum more likely.
And Mr Russell said yesterday: “Endorsing Article 50 is not just endorsing the vote in the United Kingdom – and of course the vote in Scotland was very different – it’s actually endorsing the type of position Theresa May has taken on the type of Brexit she wants, and that’s endorsing the type of country she wants.”
In the 2016 referendum 62 per cent of Scottish voters backed keeping the UK in the EU. Ms Sturgeon and Mrs May are due to hold face-to-face talks in London next month ahead of Article 50 being triggered which would start a two-year countdown to the UK leaving the EU.
Mr Russell said the “clock is ticking” on the prospect of talks with the UK government getting results.
And he added: “The clock is also ticking in terms of an independence referendum because the bill is coming forward – there is an alternative to the present situation.
“We have said we want to try and get a negotiated solution. We put everything into that and it doesn’t appear that has been treated with the respect it deserves or indeed with the consideration it merits because they were a well- worked out series of proposals. So quite clearly the clock is ticking.”
Tory chief whip John Lamont claimed Mr Russell’s approach shows the SNP is not interested in “working constructively” with the UK government on Brexit.