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Nicola Sturgeon to revisit independence in October

The First Minister spoke of a 'fundamental concern' with how Theresa May is handling Brexit.

Concerns: Ms Sturgeon criticised so-called Checkers plan.
Concerns: Ms Sturgeon criticised so-called Checkers plan. PA

Nicola Sturgeon expects to revisit the question of Scottish independence as the UK Government continues to flounder on Brexit.

The First Minister said she is likely to make a statement on her plans for independence in October, but added that she could not yet say what its content would be.

Ms Sturgeon was talking after a meeting with Theresa May in Edinburgh in which the two leaders discussed the UK's position as it prepares to leave the EU.

The SNP leader said the half-hour bilateral talks with the Prime Minister failed to allay her fears the UK is increasingly risking a no-deal Brexit.

Questioned on what this means for her pledge to update MSPs on her Scottish independence plans in late 2018, she said: "Presumably when we get to October I will give an update.

"What the content of the update will be, by definition, I don't know right now."

The First Minister said her focus is on avoiding a cliff edge Brexit in March.

'The Prime Minister's position continues to be that she thinks Chequers is the basis of an agreement on the future relationship, notwithstanding that everybody else thinks that it's not'
Nicola Sturgeon

Speaking of the talks, she said: "My concern about the increasing prospect of a no deal Brexit certainly wasn't allayed in that meeting.

"We discussed obviously the position around the Chequers agreement. The Prime Minister's position continues to be that she thinks Chequers is the basis of an agreement on the future relationship, notwithstanding that everybody else thinks that it's not.

"Probably my most fundamental concern was just seeing how much distance there still appears to be between the UK and the EU on the Northern Irish backstop, which is of course an essential component of a withdrawal agreement and without a withdrawal agreement in October then we are facing no deal."

She said there was "no clear sense" of a plan B in this situation, "just an insistence that situation won't arise".

Ms Sturgeon also called on the Prime Minister to condemn Boris Johnson's comments about burkas, which she called "reprehensible and disgraceful".

"It is Islamophobia and I think it's pretty outrageous," the First Minister added.

'As we leave the EU, the UK Government is working in partnership with business, academia and the devolved administrations to create more good jobs and spread economic prosperity across the country'
Theresa May

Ms May was in Edinburgh to announce a new £1.2bn city deal.

Both the UK and Scottish governments are committing £300m for the deal, with local authorities, universities and businesses also involved.

Prior to her meeting with the First Minister, Ms May claimed Brexit could lead to a "brighter future for the whole UK".

The Prime Minister, who in 2016 warned leaving the EU would mean losing out on investment and business, said: "We set out a clear proposal in the Chequers plan, that delivers on the Brexit vote, that does so while protecting jobs and livelihoods in the UK, that ensure we deliver on free movement in the future, the ending of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, but that we are able to do so while maintaining good trading relationships with the European Union, that's important for all parts of the UK.

"We're now sitting down and discussing those proposals with the European Union and we're negotiating as a United Kingdom.

"I think it is incumbent on all parts of the United Kingdom to be supporting the proposals that we're putting forward in their interaction with Brussels."

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