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Sturgeon urges Johnson ‘change course immediately’ to avoid Brexit’s ‘lasting harm’ to Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturegon - Image credit: PA

Sturgeon urges Johnson ‘change course immediately’ to avoid Brexit’s ‘lasting harm’ to Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to say she “looks forward” to discussing the Scottish Government’s proposal for a second independent referendum with him.

Given Johnson’s comments about leaving the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, Sturgeon said:  “it is now - more than ever - essential that in Scotland we have an alternative option”.

“You will be aware that people in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union,” she wrote.

“Subsequent Scottish Government analysis shows that a no-deal outcome could cost 100,000 Scottish jobs.”

Sturgeon said the analysis showed “even a free trade agreement could see a fall in Scottish national income of around £1,600 per person compared with continuing EU membership.”

“I urge you to study this analysis closely so that you understand the implications for Scotland of the policy you are pursuing on Brexit and why it is therefore imperative that you change course immediately to avoid causing lasting harm to the people of Scotland,” she said.

She said Scottish Parliament would “consider the necessary framework legislation for a referendum” following the summer recess.

Responding to a question in the House of Commons today about whether he would grant Scotland an independence referendum, Johnson said the 2014 poll was “once in a generation referendum”.

Sturgeon also asked the PM to convene a meeting of the heads of government “as soon as possible”.

In a second letter to Johnson, Sturgeon and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford wrote to Johnson asking him to “rule out” a no deal Brexit.

"We are concerned that you have not ruled out leaving the European Union without a deal on 31 October," they wrote.

"While we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for this eventuality, there should be no doubt that the consequences would be catastrophic for all parts of the UK. 

"It would be unconscionable for a UK Government to contemplate a chaotic no-deal exit, and we urge you to reject this possibility clearly and unambiguously as soon as possible. 

"We are also clear that the decision on EU exit must now be put back to the people.  It is the policy of both governments that the UK Parliament should legislate for a further referendum.  If such a referendum is held we will argue strongly that the UK should remain in the EU."

The first ministers called for the UK Government to “ensure that Scotland and Wales would be no worse off if the UK does leave the EU”.

They also asked for a commitment that devolved administrations be given “full involvement” in international negotiations impacting devolved competence and called for the immigration white paper to be replaced by proposals reflecting needs of the entire UK economy.

“Your government needs to make good the promises made by the Leave campaign that Scotland and Wales would be no worse off as a result of leaving the EU,” they wrote.

“We require a commitment that there will be no financial detriment to the devolved administrations and the public sector more generally in Wales and Scotland in consequence of the EU withdrawal process.”

Sturgeon and Drakeford said the forthcoming spending review should “end the policy of austerity in the interest of all governments” and asked for successor arrangements for EU funding to be “based on genuine engagement and fully respect the devolution settlements”. 

“The lack of any meaningful engagement between our governments on what a proposal for a UK wide shared prosperity fund, agreed on the basis of parity, might look like is particularly concerning,” they cautioned.

“It would be unacceptable if the UK Government made unilateral decisions on spending in areas currently the responsibility of the devolved administrations, accountable to our respective legislatures and electorates.”

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