Scotland politics

Sturgeon: Brexit deal 'will make Scotland poorer'

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon said that no Scottish government could possibly accept a deal which left the country poorer

The UK government's draft Brexit deal "will make us poorer", First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Prime Minister Theresa May has won backing for her draft Brexit deal from European leaders, but faces a battle to get it through a vote in the Commons.

The SNP's 35 MPs will vote against the withdrawal agreement, with Ms Sturgeon saying it is "quite simply a bad deal".

She was speaking as she unveiled an analysis paper setting out her government's opposition to the deal.

The UK government insists that the withdrawal agreement is the only one on the table, and that the only alternative would be for the UK to leave the EU without a deal.

And Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said the deal is "backed by businesses in Scotland, delivers an orderly departure from the EU and it provides many of things the SNP demanded - like rights for EU citizens living here and a lengthy transition period."

Mrs May, who is due to visit Scotland on Wednesday, has won backing for her draft Brexit deal from European leaders, but is facing strong opposition in the House of Commons ahead of a "meaningful vote" on 11 December.

SNP MPs have have said they will vote against it, alongside Labour, the Lib Dems and both pro-EU and Brexiteer factions within the Conservatives.

The Scottish government's objections to the deal have been summarised in a new edition of its "Scotland's Place in Europe" paper.

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Image caption Ms Sturgeon launched her government's latest paper of Brexit analysis at Bute House

This includes economic analysis - first published in January - claiming that a new free trade agreement could leave Scots £1,600 worse off per year by 2030, compared to a scenario where the UK remains in the EU.

Investment in Scotland could be 7.7% lower by this date compared to if the UK had stayed in the European Union, the report added.

Ms Sturgeon said this was proof that the deal was "unacceptable to the Scottish government and damaging to the people of Scotland".

The analysis paper also warned the "special deal" being put in place to prevent the return to a hard border in Ireland could leave Scotland at a "serious competitive disadvantage" to Northern Ireland.

Speaking at her Bute House residence in Edinburgh, she said: "Quite simply this is a bad deal, which the UK government is seeking to impose on the people of Scotland regardless of the damage it will cause.

"It will not end uncertainty. It will extend it. We are being asked to accept a blindfold Brexit with all the difficult decisions kicked down the road."

'We really tried'

Analysis from BBC Scotland Political Editor Brian Taylor

Nicola Sturgeon is aware that there might be an enticing appeal in the prime minister's case that folk are sick of Brexit discourse and simply want a deal. Not least because it probably has a fair degree of rough truth about it.

Today's document is designed to shore up the case against this appeal. It is to say "up with this we cannot put" - and, moreover, here's why, yet again.

Longer term, it might also play a part in the case for independence.

Ms Sturgeon will be able to point to umpteen efforts to mitigate Brexit, to reach consensus, stretching from the referendum to the endorsement by the EU27 and beyond, to the very eve of the Commons vote on December 11.

If it comes to it, she wants to be able to say to the people of Scotland "we tried, we really tried". We tried to strike a compromise - but we were rebuffed, ignored.

Read more from Brian here

The SNP leader also said the case for Scottish independence "has never been stronger", and said she would return to this issue "when we know which approach to Brexit the House of Commons chooses".

The UK government has insisted that a better deal is not available, a point reiterated by European leaders at their summit on Sunday.

And Mrs May told MPs on Monday that her plan was "the right deal for Britain because it delivers on the democratic decision of the British people".

Responding to the publication of the Scottish government paper, Mr Carlaw claimed that Ms Sturgeon is "not interested in a deal" because she thinks opposing it will "help her obsession with a second referendum on independence.

He added: "Tomorrow, Theresa May will be in Scotland to talk about how her plan can help the country come together and move on to a brighter future.

"The contrast between the prime minister and Nicola Sturgeon is stark. Nicola Sturgeon is playing politics with Brexit, Theresa May is getting on with Brexit."

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