Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed a breakthrough in the first phase of Brexit talks but warned that the “devil is in the detail” of the deal.
Scotland’s First Minister said “things now get really tough” after the European Commission announced that ”sufficient progress” had been made to move negotiations on to the next phase.
Intensive talks have been continuing after the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up the minority Conservative Government in Westminster, scuppered a deal aimed at resolving the Irish border issue on Monday.
Scotland´s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Jane Barlow/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May said the fresh deal would guarantee the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK and ensure there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Ms Sturgeon has said there is an opportunity for those in opposition to unite behind a “soft” Brexit, which would see the whole of the UK stay in the single market and customs union.
Responding to news of the deal on Twitter, she said: “Move to phase 2 of talks good – but devil is in the detail and things now get really tough.
“If Brexit is happening (wish it wasn’t) staying in single market & customs union is only sensible option. And any special arrangements for NI must be available to other UK nations.”
She added: “An aside – a UK government that is able to say that come what may, it will avoid hard borders with Ireland/NI after Brexit can never again tell Scotland that independence would mean a hard border between Scotland and rUK.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson wrote on Twitter: “Good news on moving to phase 2 in EU negotiations. Now, let’s talk trade.”
She criticised Ms Sturgeon for linking the developments to Scottish independence, calling on the SNP leader to “give it a rest”.
“Right on time Nicola Sturgeon uses any Brexit development to bang the indy drum. Could set your watch by it,” she said.
In a statement Ms Davidson said the announcement was “a real step forward”.
She said: “Throughout this process, my overriding priority has been to ensure we act as one United Kingdom and no home nation is left behind.
“I am therefore glad that this morning’s agreement ensures the integrity of the UK.
“The work on a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU27 can now begin.
“This will require more hard work and patience. But I am optimistic that Britain and Europe can together build a new relationship, underpinned by the ties of trade, shared values and mutual interest. It is in all our interests.”
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