Sturgeon needs to listen to businesses on Brexit deal – Mundell

The Scottish Secretary will urge Nicola Sturgeon to listen to Scottish businesses on the Brexit deal, in a speech in London later.

David Mundell will say the First Minister has to “stop lecturing and start listening” to businesses north of the border which back the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement as an alternative to a no deal Brexit.

The SNP leader has called on MPs to vote down Theresa May’s deal, citing the economic damage it would cause to Scotland and the rest of the UK, and to also reject a no deal outcome in favour of an alternative way forward.

In a keynote speech at the Scotland Office in London, Mr Mundell will say: “Nicola Sturgeon is very good at telling us all what Scotland thinks. It’s funny how it’s always what she thinks. But what she really needs to do is open her ears, and hear what Scotland is actually saying.

“If she genuinely wants to represent Scotland’s views she has to stop lecturing and start listening.

“If she listened, she’d know we have a workable solution. If she listened, she’d understand how little appetite there is for simply prolonging the uncertainty.

“She also claims we must avoid no deal. If she listened, she’d realise the only sure way to achieve that is to support the deal.”

He added: “I have engaged closely with the business world in Scotland, and the Prime Minister was in Scotland last week.

“We’ve heard concerns. We’ve faced some difficult questions. But a clear view has also emerged.

“There is a recognition that there are currently only two options on the table – and that one of them, a no-deal Brexit, would be a disaster for the economy.

“There is a consistent view that the Withdrawal Agreement provides a workable basis on which to move forward.”

Among those who have given support to the Prime Minister’s deal are the Scotch Whisky Association, businessman Sir Ian Wood, BAE Systems and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

Mr Mundell will say the deal is not perfect but it is the best compromise available and will accuse the First Minister of ignoring businesses which are backing the withdrawal agreement, to provoke the constitutional turmoil of a no deal Brexit.

He will say claims Scotland’s fishermen have been “sold out” are “false” and reiterate his view the proposed Irish backstop will protect the integrity of the UK.

SNP MSP Tom Arthur said: “David Mundell is so delusional he is fast becoming the Comical Ali of Brexit – his claims that this is a choice between the PM’s bad deal and no deal have already been completely demolished by Theresa May’s humiliating Commons defeats and by the opinion from the European Court of Justice.

“Scotland voted by an overwhelming majority to remain in the EU. That democratic choice is being completely ignored by David Mundell and his Tory colleagues.

“It is vital that parties come together to reject the Prime Minister’s bad deal next week and reject the false choice in choosing between her deal or a no-deal. There are better options to choose from that will protect jobs and living standards.

“The Prime Minister’s bad deal would mean Scotland being taken out of the EU against our democratic wishes, taken out of the Single Market against our economic interests and being placed at an economic disadvantage to Northern Ireland.”

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