Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford have written to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, asking him to encourage EU leaders to grant the UK a long delay to Brexit in order to enable a second referendum.
The Scottish and Welsh first ministers said it would be “simply impossible” for parliament to properly scrutinise the deal agreed by Boris Johnson in time for the current October 31 exit date.
Johnson has been forced by MPs to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50, but has made clear he does not want one to be offered.
The prime minister is expected to ask MPs to fast-track the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the legislation needed to write his deal into law – through parliament by the end of this month.
Make sense of politics. Sign up to the Waugh Zone and get the political day in a nutshell.
In their letter, Sturgeon and Drakeford said: “Our joint view is that the ultimate result of the Westminster parliamentary process should be a referendum on EU membership.
“But in any event it is also essential to ensure that there is sufficient time for proper scrutiny of the withdrawal bill.”
They added: “The concern that parliament could not in any way undertake the scrutiny of the Bill in a 10 day period.
“It is simply impossible for us to fulfil our constitutional responsibilities in this timescale.
“An extension would allow us to adequately scrutinise agreement and the draft legislation in accordance with our constitutional responsibilities.
“While clearly it is a matter for the Council to consider how long such an extension should he, we would favour one which long enough to enable a referendum with remain on the ballot paper to be held in the UK.”
Sturgeon, the SNP leader, and Drakeford, the Labour leader in Wales, are both pro-Remain.
They also wrote to EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker supporting the extension request so the legislation can be scrutinised and that a confirmatory referendum can be held.