Damaging impact of Brexit cannot be fully mitigated, warns Sturgeon

Nobody should pretend that the damage of Brexit can be fully mitigated, according to Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister will speak at the STUC conference in Dundee on Wednesday and is expected to warn that any form of Brexit would harm living standards and risk jobs.

An extension to Article 50 was granted earlier this month, meaning that the UK will not leave the European Union until October 31 unless a deal can be agreed in Parliament sooner.

Ms Sturgeon is expected to say: “The EU’s decision to offer a further six month extension is hugely welcome.

“However, it places a duty on the UK Government to use this time better than it has used the previous three years.

“In particular, it must drop the damaging red lines that have done so much to cause this mess. Instead, it must talk seriously – with all opposition parties and devolved governments – about what our long-term relationship with Europe could reasonably look like.

“In addition, it should recognise a fact that has become more and more obvious in recent months, and is gaining increasing support.

“Any deal that is arrived at is likely to be very different from what many voters thought they were promised. It should therefore be put to the people again. A second referendum is now the best way of resolving Brexit.

“My hope – although this is in no way guaranteed – is that in a second referendum, the UK as a whole would opt to remain.

“There are many reasons for that. One of them is that any form of Brexit – no matter how soft – will have damaging consequences for people’s jobs, living standards and opportunities.

“Those consequences can be partially mitigated – but they cannot be prevented, and no-one should pretend that they can.”

The First Minister will also say that workers’ rights cannot be guaranteed after Brexit, despite assurances from the UK Government.

Ms Sturgeon will say: “The UK Government has said that it won’t use Brexit to reduce workers’ rights – but when it comes to workers’ rights, I wouldn’t trust the Tories as far as I could throw them.

“Some MPs have been open about wanting to slash regulation. The Tory approach would be disastrous. It would damage the health, welfare and security of workers – and it would harm the productivity of the economy as a whole.

“It would also be anathema to the vision for Scotland which all of us share.”

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