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No special Brexit deal for Scotland, says Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond during a visit to Standard Life House in Edinburgh
Chancellor Philip Hammond during a visit to Standard Life House in Edinburgh

Nicola Sturgeon’s hankering for a special Brexit deal for Scotland has been crushed by the Chancellor.

Speaking ahead of his meeting with the first minister on Thursday, Philip Hammond said that Scotland would leave the EU under the terms of a UK-wide agreement with Brussels.

The Conservative MP said he wanted to work closely with the Scottish Government on a common approach, before saying those trying to scupper Brexit are “backward-looking” and “clutching at straws”.

When asked about respecting the 62% remain vote in Scotland, he said: “This is a UK issue and the will of the people of the UK was to leave and we are clear that we can’t have a different deal or a different outcome for different parts of the UK.

“We have to work together as a United Kingdom now to get the best possible deal with Europe and then to make our way in the world as a United Kingdom to the benefit of all parts of the UK.”

Mr Hammond, who was in Edinburgh on Thursday for talks with Ms Sturgeon and to meet business leaders, said he wanted to “work closely” with the Scottish Government and the other devolved administrations to secure the best deal for all.

But he added: “I look forward to us moving on from this slightly backward-looking, clutching at straws, trying to resist the will of the people, to embracing it, recognising it’s going to happen and committing to work together to make sure it’s done in a way that is most supportive of the UK economy and the Scottish economy.”

Scotland voted to stay in the continental bloc on June 23, but was over-ruled by the strength of the Leave vote in England and Wales.

Ms Sturgeon says she wants to protect Scotland’s pro-EU stance against a Brexit they did not vote for.

Her options include forcing the UK to adopt a “soft” Brexit with full single market access, securing exemptions for Scotland within a harder UK-wide Brexit, or pursuing Scottish independence.

Mr Hammond sat down with Ms Sturgeon and her Finance Secretary Derek Mackay for Brexit talks in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman for the first minister said: “The Chancellor said he looked forward to hearing our proposals on Scotland’s place in Europe, and that they will be considered fully by the UK Government – in line with the specific undertaking given to the First Minister by the Prime Minister when they met in Edinburgh in July.

“Those proposals, which we will publish in the coming weeks, will be aimed at securing Scotland’s place in the single market, which is vital for jobs, investment and our overall economic well-being.”

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