Sturgeon: Brexit hotline took 36 hours to get back to Holyrood

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at 2016.10.27
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Sturgeon: Brexit hotline took 36 hours to get back to Holyrood

It took 36 hours for UK Brexit secretary David Davis to return the call of Scottish counterpart Michael Russell on a new hotline, according to the First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon revealed the delay at First Minister Question’s on Thursday, joking “there is now a telephone line we can call, it’s just currently not very hot”.

It comes after the First Minister, along with Russell, visited Downing Street for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May and leaders of the other devolved administrations as part of the joint ministerial committee (JMC) on Monday.

Ahead of the meeting, the Prime Minister offered Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland regular formal talks ahead of Brexit negotiations as well as a “direct line” to David Davis, who who will chair the talks. | default

Sturgeon was responding to a question by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine.

Citing recent economic reports suggesting a hard Brexit could cost Scotland up to 80,000 jobs a year, McAlpine asked: “In discussion on Monday did the Prime Minister offer an explanation to the First Minister as to why she’s now happy to be led by the wishes of hard-right Brexiteers over economics and common sense?”

The First Minister responded: “No she didn’t, but I suspect the truth is that the Prime Minister doesn’t have a plan for Brexit, and so the hard-right Brexiteers to impose their own agenda.

“When we met this week, the Prime Minister unwilling or, I suspect, unable to answer even the most simple and obvious questions.

“Brexit might mean Brexit, but the Prime Minister couldn’t tell us exactly what that platitude means in practice.”

She added: “The only new information we got on Monday was that the UK Government has set up what they have called a ‘hotline’ to David Davis (UK minister for leaving the EU).

“I can share with the chamber today that Michael Russell’s office called that hotline this week. He called it just before midday on Tuesday. It took until after 6pm yesterday (Wednesday) to actually get David Davis on the hotline.

“That’s 36 hours. So yes, there is now a telephone line we can call, it’s just currently not very hot.”

Downing Street disputed Sturgeon’s claim, saying it was “not an accurate version of events”.

“A call was booked in with David Davis and that call took place at the time it was booked in for,” the No 10 spokesman added.

The department for exiting the European Union, which is headed up by Davis, also insisted the First Minister’s story was “not correct”.

A spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government asked for a call to be arranged for yesterday (Wednesday) morning and the secretary of state spoke to Mike Russell later in the day, as soon as his diary allowed.

“We have been clear that we want a constructive dialogue with the devolved administrations.”

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Published at Thu, 27 Oct 2016 15:58:08 +0000

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