Sturgeon to open SNP conference with ‘hard Brexit’ pledge

Sturgeon to open SNP conference with ‘hard Brexit’ pledge

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PA

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Nicola Sturgeon is to pledge to lead the fight against a “hard” Brexit

Nicola Sturgeon is to open the SNP conference by pledging to lead the fight against a “hard Brexit”.

The first minister is to issue a warning that the right wing of the Tory party is seeking to “hijack” the EU referendum result.

She will also confirm that SNP MPs will oppose Brexit legislation when it comes before the House of Commons in 2017.

About 3,000 delegates are expected to attend the party’s three-day conference at the SECC in Glasgow.

A range of policy topics will be debated, and the winner of the party’s deputy leadership contest will be announced at the start on the conference.

Ms Sturgeon will give her main address on Saturday, setting out her government’s domestic priorities, including education, health and the economy.

However, she will tackle the issue of the UK’s vote to leave the EU as part of her opening remarks, in particular with reference to the idea of a “hard” Brexit, which would see the UK leave the single market altogether.

‘Ruinous consequences’

The SNP leader is expected to describe rhetoric about immigration heard at the Conservative Party Conference as “a disgrace”.

She is to tell delegates: “Make no mistake – the right wing of the Tory party is now in the ascendancy and it is seeking to hijack the referendum result. Brexit has become Tory Brexit.

“They are using it as licence for the xenophobia that has long lain under the surface – but which is now in full view.

“They are holding it up as cover for a hard Brexit that they have no mandate for – but which they are determined to impose, regardless of the ruinous consequences.

“I suspect that many of those who voted to leave now look at the actions and rhetoric of the Tories and think ‘that’s not what I voted for’.”

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Some 3,000 delegates are expected to attend the SNP conference in Glasgow

Ms Sturgeon is also to pit her SNP MPs at Westminster against Brexit legislation which comes before the House of Commons, in the form of the “Great Repeal Bill”, and will seek the support of other parties in doing so.

She will say: “I can confirm today that SNP MPs will vote against the Brexit Bill when it comes before the House of Commons next year.

“That bill will repeal the legislation that enacted our EU membership. Scotland didn’t vote for that and so neither will our MPs.

“But we will also work to persuade others – Labour, Liberals and moderate Tories – to join us in a coalition against a hard Brexit: not just for Scotland, but for the whole UK.

“The Conservative Party manifesto, on which Theresa May and all other Tory MPs were elected said this: ‘We are clear about what we want from Europe. We say: yes to the Single Market’.

“The prime minister may have a mandate to take England and Wales out of the EU but she has no mandate whatsoever to remove any part of the UK from the single market.”

Brexit ‘disappointment’

The UK’s vote to leave the European Union will also be debated by conference delegates.

The resolution for Friday’s “Scotland’s place in Europe” debate will ask delegates to note “disappointment” at the Brexit vote.

Members will be asked to agree that “conference believes that every avenue must be explored to keep Scotland in the EU”, adding that “if no viable solution to safeguard our membership as part of the UK exists, Scotland should prepare for a second independence referendum and seek to remain in Europe as an independent country”.

Other resolutions include one calling for elections to the Scottish Parliament to use the single transferrable vote (STV) system used in council elections, another about internal party structures including “strengthening and clarifying disciplinary procedures”, and another about decriminalising cannabis for medical use.

Independence campaigners are planning a rally outside the conference venue on Saturday.

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