POLITICS
20/11/2018 18:34 GMT | Updated 21/11/2018 09:21 GMT

Nicola Sturgeon And Jeremy Corbyn In Talks To Avoid No-Deal Brexit

Parties agree to vote down May's deal, but SNP say Labour stands in way of second EU referendum.

PA Wire/PA Images

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned Jeremy Corbyn that Labour is the only party standing in the way of a second Brexit referendum.

The SNP leader was in Westminster on Tuesday for talks with Corbyn and other party leaders and said her party would reach out to remain-backing Tories in a bid to avoid the UK crashing out of Europe with no agreement in place.

Sturgeon, who later met the Prime Minister, planned her visit as part of a campaign around avoiding a no-deal Brexit.

It comes after Theresa May published her blueprint for leaving the EU, which has enraged the DUP and both Leave and Remain-backing Tories, casting doubt over whether her deal will make it through Parliament.

May insists her plan is the only way to avoid a no-deal Brexit but calls are intensifying for a so-called people’s vote which could keep Britain in the bloc. 

Parties are thought to be discussing amendments to the meaningful vote motion on the deal. 

Sturgeon, who also met Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price, described her meeting with Corbyn as “in a positive spirit” driven by “unity of purpose” in voting down May’s deal in the coming weeks and thrashing out a “workable alternative”. 

She added that “discussions are underway” between opposition parties and remain-leaning Conservatives.

She added, however, that she was frustrated that Labour was not pushing for a second referendum on Brexit. 

“I have been frustrated about Labour and Jeremy Corbyn’s in particular lack of leadership around this,” she told reporters. 

“They’re not yet in a position where we can coalesce around a particular option.” 

She added: “Hopefully over the course of the next few weeks as these discussions develop we will see movement in all sorts of positions.” 

Labour, meanwhile, described the meeting between the two leaders as “constructive”.

Sources say that the issue of an independence referendum was not discussed.  

Bloomberg UK

A Labour spokesman said: “Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn had a constructive meeting with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“They discussed their common opposition to Theresa May’s botched Brexit deal and determination to work across Parliament to prevent a disastrous no deal outcome.

The SNP’s position is to seek a Brexit deal that includes the UK remaining in the single market and customs union. 

The party has, however, always opposed Brexit and Scotland voted 62% to stay in the EU.  

When asked if the SNP could table a no-confidence motion in the PM, Sturgeon said the option was “on the table” but it was unclear a majority of MPs would vote for it. 

She said: “Everything has got to be on the table. I think what’s important now is that we focus on where we can build majorities. 

“We can all table different things but if they get voted down then it’s not going to take us very far. 

“Clearly, Labour are on record as saying their preference would be to have a confidence vote and a general election. 

“I would relish a general election. This is the most incompetent government in my lifetime, so I would relish that. 

“It’s not clear to me how we get from here to there given the intricacies of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, but all options should be on the table at the moment.” 

Of the PM’s meeting with Sturgeon, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister made clear that we are negotiating a deal with the EU that works for all parts of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland – and delivers on the result of the referendum.

“The deal will give Scottish businesses the clarity and certainty they need to protect jobs and living standards and see us take back control of our waters, improving the fortunes of our fishermen.

“The Prime Minister also emphasised her firm belief that the Withdrawal Agreement is the best deal that could have been negotiated and is in the interests of the entire of the United Kingdom.”