Sturgeon seeks English allies to shape Brexit

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon toured the AMRC in Rotherham today
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon toured the AMRC in Rotherham today
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SCOTTISH FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for an alliance with the North to keep Britain in the European single market as she defended plans to try and stop Theresa May beginning Brexit talks.

Ms Sturgeon argued there was “common ground” between many Remain and Leave supporters as she visited Yorkshire which voted by a margin of 58 per cent to 42 to leave the European Union in the June referendum.

In a speech in Sheffield last night, Scotland’s First Minister claimed the UK Government had “no mandate” to take Britain out of the European single market, known as a ‘hard Brexit’.

She confirmed her administration will set out plans in the coming weeks for how Scotland could remain in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves.

Earlier she had visited the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Factory of the Future facilities at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham.

Ms Sturgeon told The Yorkshire Post she wants to “forge alliances” to stop Britain leaving the single market.

She said: “Scotland voted to remain in the EU, England voted to leave.

“It seems to me the sensible compromise position, as well as being best for the economy, is to stay in the single market.

“Yes I want to try and build alliances if I can. There’s also lots beyond Brexit that I think Scotland can learn from places like this and I hope there are things Scotland can share with people in the North of England.”

The UK Government is appealing last week’s High Court decision that Parliament should be given a say on the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process for holding talks on leaving the EU.

The SNP has already indicated its MPs would vote against any attempt to begin the Brexit process.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I hope that people will understand that Scotland voted to remain, we voted to remain by a bigger margin than people in England voted to leave.

“I respect the result in England but every single MP from the SNP in the House of Commons represents a constituency that voted to remain and therefore they have a duty to represent how their constituents voted.

“I think there are many people who voted Leave, who don’t want to see a hard Brexit, don’t want to see wilful damage done to the economy so I think there is common ground to be found across the Remain-Leave divide.”

In recent months business leaders in Yorkshire have expressed concern that the Scottish Government could use its devolved powers to offer incentives to attract potential investors away from the North of England.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m not interested in a race to the bottom for Scotland. I’m interested in Scotland being a high-value, highly skilled economy.

“Healthy competition can have its place but so to can collaboration. I think collaboration can often lead to all of us doing better which I is why I think the amount we can learn from this manufacturing centre is important.

“I think we’ve all got to try and come together to make sure we continue to have an economy that remains competitive in the face of the challenges Brexit poses for us.”

In her speech to the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute last night, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland would seek a a “separate settlement” if Britain leaves the single market.

She admitted such a move “won’t be straightforward” but argued discussions were already underway over special arrangments for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

“All of that underlines the fact that we are currently in unprecedented circumstances. And so all of us - in Scotland, across the UK and throughout the EU – should approach discussions with creativity, flexibility, and a genuine desire to secure the best outcomes.

“If we do that, distinctive solutions might become possible for Scotland,” she said.