No deal Brexit would fuel argument for Scottish independence, David Mundell warns

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 8 July 2019 in News

Scottish Secretary issued an appeal against leaving the EU without a deal on Sunday, as Boris Johnson insisted he is “not bluffing”

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A no deal Brexit would “fuel nationalist claims of a UK that is insensitive to Scotland’s needs”, David Mundell has warned.

The Scottish Secretary issued an appeal against leaving the EU without a deal on Sunday, as Boris Johnson insisted he is “not bluffing” about the prospect and two Cabinet ministers warned that pursuing such a course would crash the pound and threaten the union.

The Tory leadership frontrunner urged European leaders to "look deep into our eyes" and understand the UK is prepared to exit the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place on October 31.

But Chancellor Philip Hammond is said to be privately suggesting that would cause immediate damage to the economy, and that if he was sacked once Johnson became Prime Minister, he would join the Tory rebels fighting to rule out no-deal.

An MP told The Sunday Times: “Part of the strategy for stopping no-deal is to use the political pressure that Boris will come under from day one to our advantage.

“If Boris continues to talk up no-deal, the pound will fall, the cost of holidays will increase and that will focus the minds of parliamentarians and the British public about the risks of a no-deal Brexit.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Secretary David Mundell says Nicola Sturgeon would seize upon no-deal with “unseemly glee” and use it to help her push for independence.

Writing in The Observer, he issued a thinly-veiled warning to Johnson, the overwhelming favourite in the race to replace Theresa May, saying: “Scotland has a first minister whose only true priority is the pursuit of independence.

“She poses as a defender of devolution while seeking to destroy it. She seizes on the problems of leaving the EU with unseemly glee. But it is easy to see why.

“A difficult no-deal Brexit would not only damage our economy, it would fuel nationalist claims of a UK that is insensitive to Scotland’s needs.

“The new prime minister faces considerable challenges, and the future of the UK is high on the list.”

But Johnson, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, responded to the suggestion he was bluffing over his insistence on leaving the EU with or without a deal, by saying: "No ... Honestly. Come on. We’ve got to show a bit more gumption about this."

He added: "We were pretty much ready on March 29. And we will be ready by October 31. And it's vital that our partners see that. They have to look deep into our eyes and think, 'my God, these Brits actually are going to leave. And they're going to leave on those terms.'"

The former foreign secretary said: “Everybody who says, I can't stand the idea of a no-deal Brexit, what they really mean is actually they don’t want to leave at all.

"To be fair, I think there are some people who do want to leave but are also apprehensive about no-deal Brexit but I think their fears are over-done, I really do."

It comes as his campaign is set to receive a boost with the formal endorsement of Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, who has been tipped as his possible chancellor.

Javid, the most senior cabinet member to endorse Johnson, will declare he was “better placed” than Jeremy Hunt to “deliver what we need to do at this critical time”.

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