Scottish parties unite against May’s Conservatives on Brexit deal

EDINBURGH (Reuters) – Scottish political parties will unite against the Conservatives, the party of British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a rare joint front to show their anger at her plan to leave the European Union.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May visits the Scottish Leather Group Limited, in Bridge of Weir, Scotland, Britain November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne – RC15125FF2D0

A joint motion by parties except the Conservatives in Edinburgh’s devolved parliament aims to underline the ire felt in much of Scotland which voted to remain in the EU at a 2016 referendum. They say May’s Brexit deal was negotiated without taking into account their views, something the government denies.

The vote does not have any direct tangible bearing on the Brexit process but is a way of showing the strength of feeling over May’s Brexit plans and how the parties say they are expected to damage the Scottish economy, which accounts for 8 percent of Britain’s economy as a whole.

The group will propose a single motion opposing May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement in a debate at Holyrood, which has wide-reaching powers over education, health and a portion of taxes. The only group which will not sign the motion is the Scottish Conservatives.

The motion will be backed by the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) and Scottish Greens and the anti-independence Labour and Liberal Democrats.

Scottish politics have been divided on constitutional lines since a 2014 referendum on independence, in which Scots voted by 55-45 percent to stay part of the United Kingdom. Agreement on big political issues has been extremely rare since then.

May visited Scotland on Wednesday in attempt to drum up public support for her Brexit deal agreed in Brussels last weekend, which she says suits all corners of Britain. [nL8N1Y004G]

“The day after the Prime Minister’s stage-managed visit to Scotland … this unique and positive cooperation between four of the five parties at Holyrood indicates Scotland’s strength of feeling on Brexit and the Prime Minister’s untenable position,” they said in a joint statement.

Britain’s 52-48 percent 2016 vote to leave the EU strained the ties of the four-nation United Kingdom because England and Wales voted to leave but a majority in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay.

“These four parties don’t seem to get it,” Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said.

“The alternative to the prime minister’s deal is a no-deal scenario. It would be devastating for Britain. Yet that is what the SNP, Labour, the LibDems and the Greens are risking by opposing the deal on the table.”

Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; editing by Stephen Addison

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