Chancellor in Edinburgh

Hammond: Sturgeon ‘clutching at straws’ over EU

Philip Hammond SkyChancellor Philip Hammond claimed a special Brexit deal for Scotland was “not realistic” and accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of “clutching at straws”.

During a visit to Edinburgh he ruled out any special arrangements for Scotland on trading and immigration.

He told journalists it was “clear that we can’t have a different deal or different outcomes for different parts of the UK”and that the EU would only negotiate a deal with the UK, which is the member state.

He said that he wanted to move on from the “slightly backward looking, clutching-at-straws” attitude of those who refuse to accept the EU referendum result and accused them of “trying to resist the will of the people.”

The Scottish government later insisted Mr Hammond had promised to “fully consider” the Scottish government’s demand that Scotland’s place in Europe is protected.

But Mr Hammond emphasised that Scotland’s biggest market is the rest of the UK, not the EU.

“Scotland’s most important trading relationship is with the rest of the United Kingdom. That is four times more important to Scotland than its trading relationship with the rest of the European Union,” he said.

“It is not at all clear how being outside of the UK’s arrangements with the EU could in any way advantage Scotland.

“I would suggest it would be a disadvantage overall to Scotland. I don’t hear that said often enough in the debate with Scottish colleagues over the European Union.”

Ms Sturgeon is scheduled to publish in the next few weeks proposals for Scotland to stay in the EU single market

Separately, Mr Hammond also wanted to discuss new powers which will be devolved to Holyrood after the UK leaves the EU.

Control over areas such as farming, fishing and the environment will return to the UK after Brexit and some believe they will benefit from having devolved control.

Mr Hammond said talks with the Scottish government would be needed to decide how those powers were allocated.

In his Autumn Statement he added £800m to Scotland’s capital budget over five years and today said this would allow the Scottish government to “invest significantly in infrastructure”.

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