Sturgeon not expecting to resolve Brexit powers dispute at talks with PM


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the stalemate between her government and the UK will not likely be resolved during today's talks with Theresa May.

The Prime Minister will host discussions at Downing Street with both Ms Sturgeon and the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones.

The talks are the latest bid to resolve the dispute which has developed between Westminster and the devolved governments over the the UK Government's flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.

The legislation, which transposes EU law into UK law following Brexit, has been branded a "power grab" by both Scotland and Wales.

Ahead of the talks, the Scottish First Minister made clear she was not expecting to reach a deal which would allow the two devolved administrations to grant formal consent to the Bill.

While a lack of agreement from Edinburgh and Cardiff would not prevent the key legislation from passing, forcing the Bill through without their consent could spark a constitutional crisis within the UK.

With Scotland also having voted to stay part of the EU in the 2016 referendum, Ms Sturgeon will also use the meeting to again press home to the Prime Minister the Scottish Government's strong stance, that the whole UK should stay within the single market and the customs union post Brexit - something Mrs May has repeatedly ruled out.

The SNP leader said: "It is important that the UK Government understands the very different position of the Scottish Government and our desire to retain our place in the single market - which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone - and the customs union."

Ms Sturgeon added: "We are not expecting an agreement to be reached on the Withdrawal Bill today as there are no new proposals from the UK Government on the table.

"The amendments currently proposed by the UK Government do not have the agreement of either the Scottish or Welsh governments as they do not respect devolution.

"No First Minister would agree to plans that would enable the UK Government to take control of currently devolved powers without Holyrood's consent - and without guaranteeing that the Scottish Parliament would have a role in future legislation in any area where these powers were used.

"The list published by the UK Government last week only succeeded in underlining the threatened power grab, as it included key powers devolved to Scotland, including agricultural support, fisheries management, state aid and public procurement."

She continued: "We are also concerned that unlike the rest of the EU Withdrawal Bill, the proposals on devolution are not time-limited which means the UK Government could hold this power of veto over devolved powers indefinitely."

While Ms Sturgeon said she was "determined" to continue talks in a bid to reach a deal, she also made clear: "It is time for the UK Government to show respect for devolution and accept that no changes can be made to Scotland's devolved powers without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

"Today is an opportunity for the UK Government to demonstrate that it is genuinely committed to acting in the interests of the people of Scotland and to respect the democratically endorsed devolved settlement."