The first ministers of Scotland and Wales have joined forces to demand the new British prime minister rule out a “disastrous” no-deal Brexit.
With Boris Johnson battling Jeremy Hunt to win the keys to Number 10, Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford said they were both “increasingly alarmed” by the “hardline rhetoric” that had emerged in the leadership contest.
Johnson has already pledged to take the UK out of the EU by October 31 “do or die”.
While the former London mayor insisted the chance of a no-deal Brexit was “a million to one against”, he left open the option of suspending Parliament if MPs tried to block this.
With political leaders from across the UK gathering for the last British Irish-Council meeting before the new prime minister is selected next month, the Scottish and Welsh first ministers called on Theresa May’s successor to change tack.
In a joint statement released before the Manchester meeting Sturgeon, the SNP leader, and Labour’s Drakeford said they were “becoming increasingly alarmed by the increase in hard-line rhetoric about a no-deal Brexit and a debate focused on policy proposals for leaving the EU which have no basis in reality”.
The two politicians said “severe economic damage” was already being done as a result of Brexit, highlighting job losses at British Steel, Ford, Honda, and elsewhere.
Leaving the EU without a deal could be “disastrous for the economies within these islands and for the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people”, Sturgeon and Drakeford said.