Nationalists demand EU access

SNP says Tories have ‘no mandate’ for hard Brexit

Derek Mackay: collaboration (photo by Terry Murden)
Derek Mackay: collaboration (photo by Terry Murden)

Theresa May has no mandate to pursue a ‘hard Brexit’ outcome for Britain in its negotiations over Europe, according to the Scottish National Party.

Senior figures in the party will this week contrast the SNP’s pro-EU agenda with the Tories’ attempt to deny Britain access to the single market and Labour’s decision not to discuss the issue.

Scotland’s future relationship with Europe will form the centrepiece of the party’s biggest ever conference.

Nicola Sturgeon will open proceedings on Thursday before giving her main address on Saturday afternoon.

The First Minister has previously outlined her five vital interests for EU negotiations, with the Scottish Government seeking to safeguard Scotland’s democratic voice, economic prosperity, social protection, solidarity and influence.

The announcement of the Depute Leader election will be announced on Thursday, while delegates will discuss resolutions on the devolution of welfare powers, the energy market and tackling child poverty among others.

Business convener Derek Mackay (pictured) said: “Following Theresa May’s UKIP-style rally and Labour, astonishingly, choosing to ignore Brexit, the SNP conference will counter the nasty, divisive rhetoric from the Tories.

“Scotland is an open, tolerant  and welcoming nation, and our priority is making this a better country for everyone who lives here, regardless of where they come from.

“This party’s conference will be a message of inclusion and hope in troubling times, following a Tory conference marked by narrow minded xenophobia and a Labour one mired in rank incompetence and feuding.

“Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in Europe, and the Tories have no mandate to pursue the hardest of hard Brexits – something which their manifesto pledged would not happen, and a promise which they should now be held to.

“They should also, without any further delay, guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Scotland and the rest of the UK, and end the disgraceful use of human beings as bargaining chips.”

Business leaders have warned Theresa May against pursuing a “hard Brexit” agenda, warning it would do “serious and lasting damage” to the economy.

In a letter to the Prime Minister they argue that single market access is “vital to the health of the UK economy, especially to our manufacturing and service sectors”.

Carolyn FairbairnCBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn (right), Chris Southworth of the International Chambers of Commerce and Terry Scuoler of the Engineering Employers’ Federation are among the signatories.

The letter states: “Leaving the EU without any preferential trade arrangement and defaulting to trading by standard World Trade Organisation rules would have significant costs for British exporters and importers, as well as those in their supply chains.

“The UK voted to leave the EU but not, as the chancellor said, to cause living standards to decline. We want a Brexit that safeguards future prosperity for everyone across the UK.”

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