May to urge devolved leaders to ‘pull together’ and back her Brexit deal
Theresa May will urge leaders from the devolved administrations to “pull together” to back her Brexit deal in a Downing Street meeting on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister is set to call on Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford – the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales – as well as representatives of the Northern Ireland Civil Service to listen to businesses and get behind her Withdrawal Agreement.
Her message to back the deal comes after her Cabinet agreed to ramp up preparations for the UK crashing out of the European Union without an agreement, and Mrs May will also update the leaders on the contingency plans.
Ahead of the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (Plenary) on Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister said: “I am confident that what we have agreed delivers for the whole of the UK.
“This deal honours the result of the referendum – taking back control of our money, laws and borders, protecting jobs and livelihoods, and freeing the UK to strike new trade deals with countries around the world.
“That’s why it is more important than ever that the devolved administrations get behind this deal and listen to businesses and industry bodies across all four nations who have been clear that it provides the certainty they need.
“From the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Diageo, to Airbus and Manufacturing NI, business and industry right across the UK want to us to deliver this deal as it gives them the clarity and stability they need to protect jobs and living standards.
“So my message is clear: now is the time for us to pull together and harness our efforts behind this deal and build a bright future for people all across the United Kingdom.”
But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged the Prime Minister to “face up to reality”, saying jobs and living standards are “on the line”.
She said: “Postponing the vote in the House of Commons on her bad Brexit deal just means delaying defeat and wasting precious time.
“It would be unforgivable if Theresa May was trying to run down the clock to Brexit day.
“She must immediately inform the EU that she will seek their approval for an extension of article 50 if MPs reject her deal in January.
“This will allow time for an alternative way forward to be found, preferably another referendum on EU membership
“With 100 days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, the UK Government must stop threatening the disaster of No Deal, and start putting people’s jobs and living standards first.”
The Welsh First Minister will warn Mrs May that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for Wales.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Drakeford said: “A no-deal Brexit would be a catastrophic failure on behalf of the UK Government. However, it is becoming clear the chaotic shambles around the Prime Minister’s deal on the table is moving us towards a position that will cause significant disruption, risking jobs and people’s livelihoods.
“We have been preparing for a no-deal outcome as it has become increasingly apparent the UK Government was failing to negotiate an acceptable deal. We will be further intensifying our work to develop contingency plans.
“At my first Cabinet earlier this week, I asked all my ministers to step up engagement with our partners in Wales as we move into the new year. This will further shape our plans to prepare as much as we possibly can for a no-deal outcome, including identifying areas for new investment to support preparation work.
“We cannot prepare Wales in isolation. We have been clear the UK Government must work with us if we are to secure the best possible deal for the whole of the UK.”