Theresa May tells Nicola Sturgeon: Stop exploiting Brexit for Scottish independence

Theresa May has insisted Scotland's business leaders are behind her Brexit deal as she warned Nicola Sturgeon to stop exploiting the issue to push for a second referendum.

The Prime Minister used a flying visit north of the Border yesterday to dismiss the Scottish Government’s report this week which suggested Scotland would be £9 billion worse off under the proposed deal.

Mrs May visited the Scottish Leather Group in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, where she met workers and staff to make the case for the deal she has struck with Brussels.

It was the latest stop on her nationwide tour to sell her plan directly to the people as defeat in the House of Commons looks increasingly likely in a fortnight.

Theresa May has insisted Scotlands business leaders are behind her Brexit deal as she warned Nicola Sturgeon to stop exploiting the issue to push for a second referendum. Pictures: PA

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The Prime Minister accused opponents of seeking to undermine Brexit after Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell suggested that a second referendum on Brexit was now “inevitable”.

The Tory leader made it clear that Ms Sturgeon is facing a flat refusal when, as expected, the Scottish Government next year seeks a “section 30” order from Westminster to allow a second independence referendum. The Prime Minister instead insisted Brexit is a UK-wide issue.

Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Getty Images

“Now is not the time to be thinking about this,” Mrs May said.

“The United Kingdom faces a really important decision, it’s a historic moment for the UK. We entered the EEC, as it was, as a whole UK, we’re leaving the EU as a whole United Kingdom.

“What we’ve negotiated is a Brexit deal that is good for the UK as a whole, it’s good for Scotland. It’s good for employers like Bridge of Weir here, it’s good for Scottish fishermen. Support for deal has been encouraged by employers like Diageo, organisations like the Scotch Whisky Association and the National Farmers Union of Scotland.

“One thing we do know is that what would be bad for the Scottish economy would be taking Scotland out of the United Kingdom.”

Scottish Government research published this week’s indicated that the economic impact of the free trade deal would see Scots lose out the tune of about £1600 per head, compared with staying in the EU.

The figures had been set out in a previous Scottish Government report from January

The Prime Minister said: “As I understand it what they didn’t do was actually model or look at the deal that we have negotiated and the specifics of the deal that the Government has proposed.

“The one thing I do know is that what would have most economic impact on the Scottish economy would be if Scotland was to become independent from the United Kingdom.

“It is the internal market of the UK that is four times greater for Scotland than the market with the European Union.”

She also claimed “Scotland’s interests have been taken into account throughout the negotiations we’ve been doing”, arguing that leaving Europe gives the UK the chance to negotiate its own trade deals, which could help “iconic Scottish products like smoked salmon and Scotch whisky”.

“There have been a number of employers here in Scotland, and organisations here in Scotland that have said that support for the deal is important,” Mrs may added.

“I’ve been hearing today in Bridge of Weir about the importance of a Free Trade area for the supply chains that the company and others in Scotland depend on. That’s what we’re proposing that’s what we’ve put forward that’s what we’ve got in the political declaration. No tariffs, no fees - free trade area. That’s what will protect jobs in Scotland.”