Theresa May has slapped down the SNP’s demand for greater involvement in the Brexit negotiations, insisting they are the job of the UK Government and “nobody else”.
The prime minister came out swinging at the start of the Conservative party conference in Birmingham yesterday.
She repeated her pledge to consult and work with the devolved administrations as the UK navigates its way out of the European Union.
But the Tory leader declared the UK would negotiate “as one UK” and leave the EU “as one UK”.
Leaving no room for doubt, a belligerent Mrs May added: “There is no opt-out from Brexit and I will never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious union between the four nations of our UK.”
The clear shot across the bow prompted a furious reaction from the Scottish first minister who accused Mrs May of “going out of her way to say Scotland’s voice and interests don’t matter”.
Nicola Sturgeon also branded the pointed intervention a “strange approach from someone who wants to keep UK together”.
The row erupted after Scotland’s Brexit minister suggested Holyrood could vote against the Great Repeal Bill, planned legislation to transpose all EU law applying to the UK into domestic law.
Mike Russell said it would require the consent of the Scottish Parliament.
He added: “We have to keep arguing for, pressing for and insisting upon the involvement of the Scottish Government and the other devolved administrations in the meat of these matters.”
Earlier in the day, Mrs May announced Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty would be triggered in the first three months of 2017, marking the start of the two-year process to enact Brexit.
Adding to this in her speech, the prime minister said there would be “no unnecessary delays”.
And she insisted the decision to invoke Article 50 was “up to the government” and the “government alone”, confirming there would be no parliamentary vote.
Mrs May also rejected arguments that Britain must make a “trade-off” between controlling immigration and enjoying single market access.
She added: “Let me be clear, we are not leaving the EU today to give up control of immigration again and we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
“Make no mistake, this is going to be a deal that works for Britain.”
Dealing with Mr Russell’s intervention, the prime minister said: “The negotiations between the UK and the EU are the responsibility of the government and nobody else.
“I have already said we will consult and work with the devolved administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland because we want Brexit to work in the interests of the whole country.
“We will do the same with business and municipal leaders across the land, but the job of negotiating our new relationship is the job of the government.
“Because we voted in the referendum as one UK. We will negotiate as one UK and we will leave the EU as one UK.”
At a separate event, Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson said the Scottish Government would have “no veto” over Brexit.