Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon says hard Brexit 'dead in the water'

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon calls on Theresa May to include all parties in Brexit process

Nicola Sturgeon has claimed any plans for a so-called hard Brexit are "dead in the water" following the election result.

Scotland's first minister was speaking as she called for a "short pause" in the Brexit process so consensus can be built on the best way forward.

She wants membership of the European single market and the customs union to be at the heart of the process.

But Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted the UK will be leaving both.

The UK government has also previously rejected Ms Sturgeon's calls for the Scottish government to be involved in the Brexit talks, and for Scotland to keep its single market membership even if the rest of the UK leaves.

Responding to Ms Sturgeon's call, a spokesman for the prime minister said: "We gave a commitment right at the very outset of this process to consult with the devolved administrations and that remains the case."

He went on to say "there would be no change" to the government's plans.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed on Sunday that his party - like Mrs May - was also committed to leaving the EU and pulling out of the single market, while seeking a "jobs-first Brexit".

But some senior Conservatives - including Chancellor Philip Hammond and the party's Scottish leader, Ruth Davidson - have called for the economy to be prioritised over immigration control.

Ms Davidson, who met Mrs May in Downing Street on Monday, wants a new approach that would build cross-party support for an "open Brexit".

Formal talks between the UK and EU are due to begin on 19 June - although there have been suggestions they could be delayed by a few days.

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Image caption David Mundell and Ruth Davidson have both called for closer cooperation with the Scottish government

Ms Sturgeon argued that the instability caused by last week's election result meant the UK's approach to the negotiations had to change.

Speaking as she met her party's MPs at Westminster, Ms Sturgeon said the approach Ms May was taking to Brexit "simply cannot stand" after the Conservatives lost their Commons majority in the election.

She said: "I'm calling today for a process that is opened up to include more voices, all parties and all four nations of the UK and an approach that has continued membership of the single market at its heart.

"The prime minister has got to recognise that she asked for a strengthened mandate for a hard Brexit, and voters across the UK refused to give her that, and she cannot simply carry one as if nothing has changed.

"The Tory cabal kicking up a hard Brexit approach is dead in the water."

Ms Sturgeon also questioned whether the prime minister could form a functioning government, adding: "The idea that the UK led by this prime minister and this government can just blunder into negotiations starting one week today, I just don't think it's a credible proposition."

Acting leader

Mrs May is currently attempting to secure a deal that would see the Democratic Unionist Party support her minority government, which has confirmed that next week's Queen's Speech could be delayed.

Ms Sturgeon's proposals for Brexit include the involvement of the UK's devolved governments in the negotiations, and the re-establishment of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on EU Negotiations.

She also wants a cross-party advisory group to be set up, including representatives from the devolved administrations, to agree a new position for the UK and oversee the Brexit negotiations.

The SNP won 35 seats in the general election, down 21 on the 56 MPs it returned in 2015 but still enough to give the party a majority of the seats in Scotland.

Among the SNP MPs to lose their seat was the party's Westminster leader Angus Robertson. Stewart Hosie has been confirmed as its acting leader in the Commons with a new permanent leader due to be selected this week and announced on Wednesday evening.

Tommy Sheppard, Joanna Cherry, Ian Blackford and Drew Hendry are all standing as candidates.

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Image caption Theresa May is to face Tory backbenchers as she looks to hold onto her job

The UK government's rejection of a special Brexit deal for Scotland prompted Ms Sturgeon to demand a second independence referendum when the Brexit process was formally triggered in March.

The first minister has since admitted the issue of another referendum was a factor in last Thursday's vote, and stated the party would reflect on its plans amid calls for it to be taken off the table.

She has turned her focus to the UK's Brexit approach as other political leaders, including Ms Davidson and Scottish Secretary David Mundell, called for more consensus on Brexit.

Speaking on Saturday, Ms Davidson said: 'I want to ensure that we can look again at issues like Brexit, which we know we are now going to have to get cross-party support for, and move to a consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave."

She has previously said she wants the UK to have the "largest amount of access" to the single market after Brexit.

And there have been suggestions she will use the influence of her party's new Scottish MPs to push for what she describes as an "open Brexit" that prioritises the economy over curbing immigration.

Mr Mundell told BBC Scotland that he had always believed it would be possible to build a consensus, particularly in Scotland, for what the Brexit negotiations should achieve.