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Sturgeon: UK is 'making a mess' of Brexit

June 26, 2018

London's "lack of realism" on Brexit is holding up divorce talks with the EU, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told DW. She also dismissed claims she was "weaponizing" Brexit to push Scottish independence.

DW Interview with Nicola Sturgeon screenchot
Sturgeon set down with DW's Charlotte Chelsom-Pill in Berlin (Screenshot)Image: DW

DW talks with Nicola Sturgeon

In a DW interview, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon slammed London for holding up the Brexit talks with the EU.

The negotiations have stalled because of "the lack of clarity from the UK, and the lack of realism from the UK in what it's trying to achieve," Sturgeon said. She was in Berlin on Monday with a Scottish business delegation and held talks with Foreign Ministry officials.

Sturgeon, from the Scottish National Party (SNP), has faced condemnation in London for her public criticism of Brexit. The ruling Tory party accused the SNP of trying to "weaponize" Brexit in order to undermine the UK and reopen the issue of Scottish independence.

Read more: Is the Scottish National Party 'on the sidelines' of politics?

DW talks with Nicola Sturgeon

'Such a mess'

Talking to DW's Charlotte Chelsom-Pill, however, Sturgeon dismissed the claims as "nonsense."

"The only reason I can say the things that I say about Brexit and mean them sincerely and have so much frustration is because the UK government is making such a mess of the negotiation and doesn't have a negotiating strategy worthy of the name," she said.

Sturgeon restated her support for an independent Scotland, but said the issue of secession would have to wait until the public had more clarity on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

Sturgeon: Scots to decide Scotland's path

'Riding roughshod'

In 2016, the UK held a vote on exiting the EU, with the "Leave" option winning with less than 52 percent of the vote. However, the results were far from uniform across various regions of the UK, with Scotland voting 62 percent in favor of staying in the bloc.

Sturgeon has since called for the UK to stay in the single market and the customs union. Earlier this month, SNP lawmakers walked out of the Westminster parliament after a row on Brexit legislation that influenced Scotland. They also refused to support an EU withdrawal bill, leading to increased tensions between Sturgeon's Cabinet and the central government in London.

During the interview, Sturgeon confirmed the ties between London and Edinburgh were "strained," partly because Scotland was "being dragged down a road and out of the EU" against the will of its voters.

Another factor was that the UK government has taken a "very high-handed attitude to Scotland's interests," and was "riding roughshod" over the powers held by the Scottish parliament during the Brexit talks.

"There is clearly a real frustration in Scotland, not just at Brexit — we want to continue to be an open, outward looking, European country — but also at the way in which the Brexit process is undermining the very foundations of our very own parliament in Scotland," Sturgeon told DW.