Nicola Sturgeon to attend British-Irish Council summit on Brexit

Devolved leaders will stress the need for unfettered access to the European Single Market at a summit meeting today with UK government ministers which is set to be dominated by Brexit.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will attend the British-Irish Council meeting with other devolved leaders and the Irish Taoiseach. Picture: John Devlin

Ahead of the British Irish Council summit near Cardiff, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones called for firm commitments on free trade. Mr Jones, who is hosting the event, said single market access had become even more important amid the prospect of US protectionist policies in a Donald Trump White House.

Mr Jones said: “This is a changing world and these are tumultuous times. But our focus on retaining full and unfettered access to the single market is unwavering.

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“I will once again call on the UK government to make this their absolute priority in Brexit negotiations.”

The leaders of Jersey, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Scottish Secretary David Mundell. Picture: Jane Barlow

Mr Jones will be joined by Nicola Sturgeon, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and the premier of the Irish Republic, Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire and Parliamentary under secretary for exiting the European Union Robin Walker will be among UK government representatives attending.

Ahead of the event, the Scottish Government said the UK must not be “driven-off a hard Brexit cliff edge”.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “A hard Brexit outside the Single ­Market is the biggest threat to the economic prosperity of Scotland and all the UK.”

The leaders of Jersey, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Scottish Secretary David Mundell. Picture: Jane Barlow