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May won't trigger EU divorce until UK-wide approach agreed

Saturday, July 16, 2016 - 00:23

[EDINBURGH] Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that Britain would not trigger formal divorce talks with the European Union until a "UK approach" had been agreed, bidding to appease Scots who strongly oppose Brexit.

Mrs May made the comment after meeting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, head of the pro-independence Scottish government which says pro-EU Scots should not be dragged out against their will and has been looking at ways to keep Scotland in the bloc.

Scotland voted by 62-38 percent to stay in the European Union in the June 23 referendum while the United Kingdom as a whole voted 52-48 percent to leave, a result which Sturgeon has said made the prospect of another vote on Scottish independence"highly likely". "I have already said that I won't be triggering Article 50 until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations - I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger Article 50," Mrs May said, referring to the procedure through which a country would withdraw from the EU.

Mrs May said her decision to visit Ms Sturgeon on her own turf less than 48 hours after taking office underlined her determination to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom after the Brexit vote had revived the issue of independence, which Scots rejected in a 2014 referendum.

Ms Sturgeon has said she will explore all possibilities for keeping Scotland in the EU and May, who herself had backed the campaign to remain in the bloc, said she wanted the Scottish government to be involved in the Brexit talks. "I will listen to any options they bring forward. I've been very clear with the first minister today that I want the Scottish government to be fully engaged in our discussions," Mrs May said. "I want to get the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom." While European leaders have urged Britain to start formal discussions over an EU exit quickly, MrsMay has said Britain would not trigger Article 50 this year, and needed a clear negotiating stance first.

REUTERS