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Sturgeon’s single market hopes dashed by Brexit deal

Terry smiling headTheresa May ended a potentially career-ending week on a triumphant note and has also effectively killed off Nicola Sturgeon’s dream of Scotland or the UK remaining in the European single market.

Point two of a six point agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party spells out clearly that “Northern Ireland will leave the single market and the customs union along with the rest of the United Kingdom”.

It is inconceivable that with Northern Ireland now settled on handing back these trade deals that Scotland could continue to hold on to them.

This will prompt some re-thinking at Bute House despite Ms Sturgeon last night telling a gathering of business leaders in Glasgow that she was still wedded to single market membership.

Ms Sturgeon’s comments were a response to the the chaotic events in Brussels on Monday. But, as they say, a week is a long time in politics and a breakthrough this morning has quickly turned the dispute with the DUP into a hiccup on route to next week’s trade talks.

Whether Ms Sturgeon digs in her heels, and continues to call for the whole of the UK to stay in the single market, will be determined in the coming days and weeks.

But Mrs May’s willingness to compromise on the Irish border issue does not seem likely to extend to the SNP’s demands. The UK will be leaving the single market and the customs union.

The Brexit talks, of course, present more than one hurdle. Mrs May has merely leapt safely over a tricky first obstacle.

What has been agreed is the process for unravelling the existing arrangements. Resolving the future relationship with the EU is bound to be equally, if not more, challenging.

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