I cannot back Brexit plan as it stands, Nicola Sturgeon says

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she cannot support Theresa May's Brexit plan "as it stands".

The SNP leader also said it was "highly questionable" as to whether the prime minister would be able to command majority support in the House of Commons for the proposals agreed at Friday's meeting of the Cabinet at Chequers.

Her comments followed a day of turmoil at Westminster yesterday, with two Cabinet resignations and discontent among Brexiteer MPs over the plan.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Sturgeon rejected the view that failure to back Mrs May would result in a "no deal" scenario in negotiations with the EU.

The first minister has instead suggested that if the Chequers plan was used as a starting point in talks with Brussels, it could be "game on" for a deal which includes membership of the European single market and the customs union.

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She said she believed such an outcome could achieve majority backing at Westminster.

Asked if she would support Mrs May, she said: "Not on the basis of the plan as it stands.

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"I described it at the weekend as a step forward in the sense that there appears to be more realism in it than we've heard from the UK government to date, although that's not really saying much to be honest.

"But we don't yet know whether it is acceptable to the EU. It still seems to be cherry-picking, trying to divide the four freedoms.

"It looks horrendously complicated and, of course, it excludes services, and services make up almost 80% of the Scottish economy, and the UK economy for that matter, and a third of our exports."

She added: "If you look at the arithmetic in the House of Commons first of all before we think about the position across the country, I don't think there is a majority, in fact I am convinced there's no majority for no deal.

"I think after the events of the last 24 hours or so it's highly questionable about whether there is a majority for the Chequers plan as it stands."

She added: "I think the only thing that actually stands a realistic chance of commanding a majority in the House of Commons, as well as being the right thing for the interests of the economy, is single market and customs union membership."

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