Theresa May didn’t tell Scotland about her plan to trigger Article 50, it has been claimed.
Scotland’s Brexit minister tweeted that Downing Street had not informed politicians north of the border of its intentions.
It was announced on Monday that Article 50 – Britain’s formal notification of its intention to leave the European Union – will be triggered next Wednesday, March 29.
However, the SNP’s Michael Russell, minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe, indicated that he hadn’t been consulted.
He tweeted: ‘Thank you @BBCNews for letting JMC [Joint Ministerial Committee] members like me know that #Article50 is to be triggered next week. @GOVUK somehow forgot to inform us.’
Last October, the prime minister had said Scotland, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, would have a ‘direct line’ to Brexit secretary David Davis about the government’s plans.
Scotland and Downing Street are at loggerheads over Brexit and the proposed second Scottish referendum on independence.
— Michael Russell (@Feorlean) March 20, 2017
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has criticised the prime minister and her approach to the issue, accusing her of ‘arrogance’ and comparing her unfavourably with Margaret Thatcher.
Writing in the Daily Record, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The SNP government were elected on a crystal clear manifesto commitment that Holyrood should have the right to decide on an independence referendum if Scotland faced being dragged out of Europe against its will.
‘We won that election with the biggest share of the constituency vote of any party in the history of devolution.
‘The EU referendum then saw Scotland vote by 62 to 38 per cent to remain, while the UK voted to leave.
‘And yet, in the face of this unimpeachable democratic mandate, Theresa May wags her finger, Ruth Davidson parrots her boss’s lines and David Mundell – the Tories’ only MP in Scotland – presumes to tell us that it is his party alone that will decide whether, and when, a referendum should be held.
‘The arrogance is jaw-dropping. Even Margaret Thatcher, in the worst days of her government ruling Scotland without a mandate, did not dispute the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.’
The Scottish Government wants a referendum on independence to take place between autumn next year and spring 2019, when it says there will be clarity over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
Mrs May has said ‘now is not the time’ for another vote and has indicated that the UK government would reject the SNP’s preferred timetable.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: ‘Nicola Sturgeon is determined to fire the starting gun on another divisive referendum campaign this week.
‘At a time when we should be coming together as a country, it is the wrong course of action to take.
‘Nicola Sturgeon wants to set a date but she won’t tell us the plan. It is utterly irresponsible.’