British prime minister laid down a marker earlier today, as she made clear what she expects the United Kingdom’s divorce from the European Union to look like. And while the UK is ready to ditch the EU, Scotland is ready to ditch the UK.
The Associated Press summarizes the prime minister’s address. Perhaps the most important element of the story is this:
“I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path,” she said. “That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend.”
May also acknowledged for the first time that Britain’s Parliament will be able to vote on the final divorce deal reached between the U.K. and European Union. However, she did not address what would happen should there be a vote against the agreement.
The British pound rallied as May focused on keeping Britain open to global trade.
President-elect Donald Trump, who is inaugurated on Friday, has said he’ll make sure a strong trade deal between the US and the UK comes together, suggesting Brexit is a “great thing” for the UK.
Prime Minister May’s address was firm, as expected. And that left a sweet taste in the mouths of some Europeans, and a sour taste in the mouths of others on the continent. One Czech politician noted that May seemed to ask for a lot while offering nothing in return.
One person clearly not happy with what she heard was Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon. The Irish Times explains that part of the story.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the prime minister had pandered to “hard right” Conservatives and made a second Scottish independence referendum more likely.
“The UK government cannot be allowed to take us out of the EU and the single market, regardless of the impact on our economy, jobs, living standards and our reputation as an open, tolerant country, without Scotland having the ability to choose between that and a different future. With her comments today, the prime minister has only succeeded in making that choice more likely,” she said.
It was less than three years ago that Scottish voters opted to remain part of the UK, but it was quite clear then that any British move to abandon the EU would lead to Scotland casting its lot with the EU and leaving the UK.
The UK-EU separation talks should begin in a little more than two months.