UK government living in Brexit fantasy world, Holyrood minister claims

PUBLISHED: 14:25 07 February 2019

Scotland's Brexit minister Mike Russell Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Images

Scotland's Brexit minister Mike Russell Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

UK ministers are living in a Brexit “fantasy world”, Scotland’s constitutional relations secretary has said.

Mike Russell delivered the withering assessment after a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) in London.

Russell said: “There needs to be a sense of reality in the UK government.

“It is like a fantasy world in there. They do not realise the problems they are causing. What it is is an abdication of responsibility.”

Referring to the JMC meeting, Russell said: “I know no more now than I did when I went in there.

“There is no indication of what the prime minister is seeking to achieve in Brussels because she can’t achieve what she says she is going to achieve.

“I think that we are in an incredibly grave situation with a group of people who, frankly, I wouldn’t send for the messages [shopping].

“The reality of the situation now is that we have to talk very seriously about a no-deal because it doesn’t seem the people who are charged with getting a deal know what they are doing.”

Russell said that May should use her visit to Brussels today to seek an extension to Article 50, meaning the UK would remain in the EU beyond the scheduled exit date of March 29.

He said: “Quite clearly what the prime minister should do now, instead of wasting her time talking about things which won’t happen, is, first of all seek an extension to Article 50, which she can do, she’s in Brussels.

“Then she has got to rule out a no-deal.”

Russell insisted that the option of a new Brexit referendum was not dead.

He said: “I think that the desire for a referendum, the need for a referendum, is greater than ever.

“If politicians can’t make decisions, and these ones clearly can’t make decisions, then people have to make the decision.”

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