Nicola Sturgeon says Brexit talks are close to ‘end game’

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Negotiations between the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments over key Brexit legislation are “reaching the end game”, the First Minister said ­yesterday.

Nicola Sturgeon said ministers have “days rather than weeks” to reach a deal on the EU Withdrawal Bill, which has entered its final stages in the House of Lords. Scottish Secretary David Mundell has also said the talks would “go to the wire”.

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

The UK government remains locked in a dispute with the Scottish and Welsh administrations over the return of devolved powers from Brussels once Britain leaves the EU.

Ministers in both Cardiff and Edinburgh have repeatedly branded the legislation a “power grab” which threatens devolution and have refused to recommend consent unless it is amended.

The UK government has launched a legal challenge to alternative Brexit bills passed by the Scottish ­Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

Speaking to Holyrood’s committee conveners, Ms Sturgeon said the referral to the Supreme Court was “deeply regrettable”.

“The Westminster government had a decision to make, whether to respect the decision the Scottish Parliament arrived at or not to respect it, and unfortunately they opted not to and referred to the Supreme Court,” she said.

She added that the decision had a “bearing on the spirit of the negotiations” on the EU Withdrawal Bill, with time running out to reach an agreement.

“I think it’s fair to say we are reaching the end game of this,” she said.