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May ‘governing by threat’ on Brexit deal, Nicola Sturgeon claims

Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrive at the University of Edinburgh Credit: PA

Theresa May is “governing by threat” as she seeks to impose an “unacceptable” Brexit deal on Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.

The First Minister hit out at the PM as a new report from the Scottish Government warned the draft deal to leave the European Union could result in “loss equivalent to £1,610 per person in Scotland compared to EU membership by 2030”.

Investment in Scotland could be 7.7% lower by that date compared to if the UK stayed in the European Union, the report added.

Meanwhile, the “special deal” being put in place to prevent the return to a hard border in Ireland could leave Scotland at a “serious competitive disadvantage”to Northern Ireland.

“In short, it will make us poorer,” Ms Sturgeon said.

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She said: “The analysis shows why the deal agreed by the Prime Minister is unacceptable to the Scottish Government and damaging to the people of Scotland.

“No government of Scotland with the interests of this and future generations at heart could possibly accept it.”

Downing Street will issue its own economic analysis of Brexit scenarios on Wednesday afternoon.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The cost of Scotland not being independent have been laid bare over the last two years.”

She will make a statement on when there could be a second independence referendum, adding it will be when the time is “right for the people of Scotland”.

Speaking about the Conservative leader, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Prime Minister has made it clear at every turn that she is not interested in compromise, in fact she seems to have given up any attempt at governing by consensus and is now governing by threat.”

MPs will vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement on December 11.

Before that Holyrood could get the chance to have its say on the proposals, with plans for a symbolic ballot to be held next week – when a majority of MSPs will most likely vote against it.

Theresa May speaking to people in Belfast about the Brexit deal Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Scottish Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell said: “The opportunity exists for the whole Parliament to send a clear signal to the House of Commons that this deal is unacceptable to Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon was clear the draft agreement was “a bad deal”, which she said Westminster is “seeking to impose on the people of Scotland regardless of the damage it will cause”.

The First Minister said: “It will not end uncertainty. It will extend it. We are being asked to accept a blindfold Brexit with all the difficult decisions kicked down the road.”

It came after the Scottish Government report stated: “There is a sense in some quarters that the deal represents a major breakthrough and gives clarity for the future. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“The agreement may have taken over two years of intense negotiation but it nevertheless only covers the UK’s divorce from the EU.

“The political declaration which accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement provides no certainty on the future relationship as so much within the text is conditional upon the obligations the UK Government will accept.

“Nearly all the difficult decisions which need to be taken about the future of our businesses and society have simply been postponed for another day, to be negotiated by the UK once we have become a third country.

“We therefore face what is effectively a blindfold Brexit, with several more years of damaging uncertainty for businesses and of UK Government still consumed by these negotiations and their own internal divisions.”

The Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh Credit: PA

It added: “Such uncertainty is likely to lead to businesses postponing or cancelling investment and recruitment plans until the UK’s future economic relationship with the EU becomes clearer.

“This will depress economic activity and put jobs at risk.”

But Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said: “Theresa May’s deal is backed by businesses in Scotland, it delivers an orderly departure from the EU and it provides many of things the SNP demanded – like rights for EU citizens living here and a lengthy transition period.

“Today, Nicola Sturgeon has once again repeated her opposition to that deal.

“We all know why – she’s not interested in a deal, she wants Britain to crash out with no deal because she thinks that will help her obsession with a second referendum on independence.

“Tomorrow, Theresa May will be in Scotland to talk about how her plan can help the country come together and move on to a brighter future.

“The contrast between the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon is stark.

“Nicola Sturgeon is playing politics with Brexit, Theresa May is getting on with Brexit.

“The Scottish Conservatives, and more and more Scots, back Theresa May – not Nicola Sturgeon and her political games.”