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May 'forgot' to share Article 50 date with SNP minister

Mike Russell said he learned of the March 29 plan when it was reported in media.

Brexit: Theresa May confirmed Article 50 date (file pic).
Brexit: Theresa May confirmed Article 50 date (file pic).

Holyrood's Brexit minister has criticised the UK Government after claiming Tory politicians in London "forgot" to tell him the date when Article 50 will be triggered. 

Mike Russell said he only found out the Brexit process would formally begin on March 29 when it was reported in the online media.

Russell, the minister for UK negotiations on Scotland's place in Europe, has been involved in discussions between Westminster and Holyrood over the Article 50 process as a member of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations.

He claimed he had not been informed by Downing Street about the Prime Minister's intended date for triggering Article 50.

Theresa May's letter officially notifying the European Council of the UK's intention to quit will set in motion a two-year negotiation expected to lead to Britain leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019.

Britain's ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, informed the office of European Council president Donald Tusk on Monday morning of the Prime Minister's plans.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1383613-brexit-theresa-may-will-trigger-article-50-on-march-29/ | default

Russell tweeted: "Thank you @BBCNews for letting JMC members like me know that #Article50 is to be triggered next week. @GOVUK somehow forgot to inform us."

That led to SNP MPs at Westminster accusing the Conservative administration of "arrogance" and a "complete dismissal of Scottish interests".

Martin Docherty, MP for West Dunbartonshire, said on Twitter: "In the entire process this is extraordinary #Brexit chaos #Article50."

Colleague Roger Mullin, who represents Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, tweeted: "Outrageous but typical of UK government arrogance and complete dismissal of Scottish interests. #indyref2."

The row comes amid increasing tension between Edinburgh and London over Brexit after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to seek to hold a second independence referendum in the wake of the vote to quit the EU.

MSPs are expected to back Sturgeon's call for a fresh referendum in a vote at Holyrood on Wednesday - which will then see the Scottish Government formally request a Section 30 order from Westminster, enabling a legally binding vote to take place.

However, May has already said "now is not the time" to hold another ballot on Scotland's future.

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