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SNP Westminser leader asks: 'Why can't Scotland stay in single market when Northern Ireland can?'

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The leader of the SNP in Westminster has pushed the Prime Minister on why Scotland has not received the same treatment as Northern Ireland in the draft Brexit agreement.

Questioning the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on Thursday, Ian Blackford MP criticised the fact that Scotland is not mentioned in the draft deal.

"What is absolutely shocking is that Scotland is not once mentioned in the document. Not once Prime Minister. Not once have the unique characteristics of Scotland’s devolved settlement been mentioned," said Mr Blackford.

In response to the comments Theresa May pointed to the unique circumstance of Northern Ireland being the only part of the United Kingdom with a border on the EU and that Scotland is included in the text as part of the United Kingdom.

Along with Northern Ireland, Scotland was the only other region of the UK to vote in favour of remaining in the European Union.

"Different deal for Northern Ireland means Scotland should have its own different deal. If Northern Ireland can stay in the single market, then why not Scotland Prime Minister?" Mr Blackford said.

He also the draft deal was "already dead in the water" and predicted it would be voted down in Parliament.

"Northern Ireland has its own very particular set of circumstances. It is the only part of the United Kingdom that will have a land border with a part of the European Union," said Mrs May in response.

"And that is why together with our commitments in the Belfast Agreement, that is why Northern Ireland is dealt with separately in the withdrawal agreement."

It comes on a hectic day for the Prime Minister which has seen the resignation of Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey over the shape of the draft agreement, as well as the submission of letters from Theresa May's colleagues casting doubt over her continued leadership.

As part of the agreement a backstop is in place to prevent a return of a hard border on the island of Ireland if no future agreement is reached.

The UK will remain in a customs alignment with the EU for a fixed period with it continuing to follow EU tariffs and customs rules, avoiding the need for checks between the UK and the EU, including between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

In addition to this Northern Ireland will be required to remain aligned with some EU single market rules.

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