Nicola Sturgeon calls for Brexit process ‘pause’ – BBC News

Nicola Sturgeon calls for Brexit process ‘pause’ – BBC News

Nicola Sturgeon

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Ms Sturgeon is in London to meet her party’s 35 MPs

Nicola Sturgeon has called for a “short pause” in the Brexit process to allow a UK-wide position to be worked out.

Scotland’s first minister wants the country’s devolved governments and major political parties to be involved in the process.

Formal talks between the UK and EU are due to begin on 19 June.

But Ms Sturgeon argued that the instability caused by last week’s election result meant the UK’s approach to the negotiations had to change.

She wants membership of the European single market and the customs union to be “at the heart” of a new way forward despite Theresa May insisting the country will leave both.

And Ms Sturgeon has called for the rights of EU nationals living in the UK to be guaranteed with immediate effect.

The election saw Conservatives lose their majority in the House of Commons, with the prime minister now attempting to secure a deal which would see the Democratic Unionist Party support her minority government.

The SNP won 35 seats in the election, down 21 on the 56 MPs it returned in 2015 but still enough to give the party a majority of the seats in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon’s previous call for a special deal to keep Scotland in the single market was rejected by the UK government, prompting her to demand a second independence referendum when the Brexit process was formally triggered in March.

The first minister has since admitted the issue of another referendum was a factor in last Thursday’s vote, and stated the party would reflect on its plans amid calls for it to be taken off the table.

‘Look again’

She has turned her focus to the UK’s Brexit approach as political leaders, including Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Secretary David Mundell, called for more consensus on Brexit.

Speaking on Saturday, Ms Davidson said: ‘I want to ensure that we can look again at issues like Brexit which we know we are now going to have to get cross-party support for.

“And move to a consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave.”

Ms Sturgeon’s proposals include the involvement of the devolved governments in the negotiations, and the re-establishment of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on EU Negotiations.

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David Mundell and Ruth Davidson have both called for closer cooperation with the Scottish government

She also wants a cross-party advisory group to be set up, including representatives from the devolved administrations, to agree a new position for the UK and oversee the Brexit negotiations.

Ms Sturgeon argued that the Scottish government’s “compromise position” – that the UK would leave the EU but remain in the single market and that the Scottish government should be at the negotiating table – was “endorsed by the electorate in the election and provides a blue print for a new UK position”.

‘Uncertain time’

She said: “In what is a very unstable situation for the UK government it is essential that time is taken to secure a consensus over the approach to Brexit negotiations.

“The Tories hard Brexit plan has been rejected and we cannot allow the Brexit negotiations to become hostage to the inability of either the Tories or Labour to command a clear majority.

“It is imperative that we now build a cross party, all government approach to Brexit that will protect all of our interests at this highly uncertain time.

“The strongest possible position in the Brexit negotiations will be one that is backed by all parties and all governments across the UK.”

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Theresa May is to face Tory backbenchers as she looks to hold onto her job

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Mundell pledged to “forge a much more constructive relationship” with the Scottish government as he was reappointed as Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr Mundell had been the country’s lone Scottish Conservative MP before 12 of his colleagues were elected on Thursday, giving the party its best result in Scotland since 1983.

He said: “We need to secure the right Brexit deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK, and we also need focus on how we bring back powers from Brussels in a way that works best for the Scottish economy.

“We need to work closely with the Scottish government, and to do that effectively we will need to forge a much more constructive relationship, one based not on politics and press releases but on what is best for Scotland.

“I’m confident that can happen. My door is open and I hope, now the election is over, we can reset the relationship between Scotland’s two governments.”

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