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Sturgeon Warns May She Has Two Months To Strike A Brexit Deal With Scotland

The UK government's Scotland secretary, David Mundell, told BuzzFeed News he would now "intensify" discussions with the first minister over her proposals.

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Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned Theresa May that she has two months to find a Brexit compromise with the Scottish government or she risks facing a second independence referendum.

On Monday afternoon the prime minister met the first ministers of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland at a meeting of the joint ministerial committee in Cardiff to discuss their different approaches to Brexit.

Ahead of the meeting, Sturgeon warned that "time is running out" for the UK government to respond to her proposal that Scotland should remain inside the UK and the European single market.

Scottish secretary David Mundell later told BuzzFeed News the UK government would now "intensify" its study of the proposals, but Sturgeon appeared disappointed, telling reporters May has until the triggering of Article 50 to find a compromise.

The prime minister has committed the UK government to triggering Article 50 – beginning the official process of leaving the EU – by the end of March, providing she wins the backing of the UK parliament to do so.

Speaking at Cardiff City Hall, Sturgeon said: "I came here today determined to find some grounds for compromise, some way of trying to square the circle of the UK-wide vote to Leave and the Scottish vote to Remain.

"I also came with a very direct message to the UK government, that so far the compromise or the attempts at compromise have come only from the Scottish government. There has been no willingness to meet in the middle on the part of the UK government.

"In terms of me getting a sense of whether Scotland is going to be listened to at all, that period between now and triggering of Article 50 is absolutely crucial."

When asked if a failure to reach a compromise by the end of March would lead to her calling a second referendum on independence, Sturgeon replied: "I’ll do what needs to be done to protect Scotland’s position. We are running out of time for this process. It can’t go on indefinitely and it won’t go on indefinitely."

The Scotland secretary, David Mundell, attended the meeting alongside May and the first ministers. Last week Scotland's Brexit minister, Mike Russell MSP, criticised Mundell for calling a "pointless" meeting with him in which Mundell offered "zero, zilch, nothing" on the Scottish government's Brexit proposals.

However, following the meeting on Monday, Mundell told BuzzFeed News: "It was constructive, especially given rhetoric we've heard in recent times. We are going to intensify our consideration of the Scottish government's proposals."

Responding to Sturgeon, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said it was "more sabre-rattling from an increasingly desperate first minister", and that the SNP leader was trying to "stoke up resentment to shift the polls".

“It’s clear she’s running out of ideas on how to make Brexit about Scottish independence, and is now reduced to simply repeating the same hollow lines over and over again," said Davidson. “Nicola Sturgeon should be using these talks to work with others from across the UK to get the best Brexit deal for all of us."

The Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, also believes that Wales should remain inside the European single market and the UK at the end of the Brexit process. Jones said he would raise the issue with May at the meeting.

After the meeting, a spokesperson for the Welsh government said its position on single market access and the UK government's are "not identical", but added that the two positions are "not irreconcilable at this stage".

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

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