**Theresa May warned of risk of constitutional crisis over Brexit deal
Theresa May has been warned to expect a “full-blown constitutional crisis” unless agreement on the terms of Brexit can be reached between the government and the UK’s devolved administrations.
The stark prediction comes as the prime minister hosts talks on Monday with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the first time since the UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June.
In a report published on Monday, the Institute for Government said unless all four leaders agree on the “core planks” of the UK’s negotiating position before May triggers article 50, formally starting the Brexit process, the result could be “a serious breakdown in relations between the four governments and nations of the UK”.**
May is preparing to offer Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, and Northern Ireland’s first minister, Arlene Foster, and her deputy, Martin McGuinness, a “direct line” to the Brexit secretary, David Davis, to allow them to help shape Britain’s EU exit strategy.
But the offer is made against a background of continuing clashes between May and Sturgeon over who has a more substantial mandate regarding Scotland’s relationship with the UK and Europe, and as the devolved administration leaders present an increasingly united front against Westminster…
Sturgeon has already said she will push for substantial additional powers for Holyrood as part of article 50 negotiations, including over international trade deals and immigration.
But this appeared to be rebuffed by Davis during a visit to Scotland on Friday, when he insisted that any arrangements to leave the EU would be a “United Kingdom deal”.
A Downing Street source said while the JMC had existed since devolution, the discussions over Brexit had provided a new impetus for its work.
“It will be the formal forum in which the devolved administrations feed in their ideas and make their case on what is important around Brexit,” the source said…
Although May called for a “new grown-up relationship” between Westminster and the devolved administrations ahead of the meeting, the war of words between the Scottish and UK governments has continued since Thursday, when Sturgeon published a draft bill on a second independence referendum.
**The Scottish National party leader said she had a clear mandate to hold a second vote, because the SNP had been elected in May on a manifesto commitment to do so, should there be a “significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will”.
Sturgeon has promised to work with progressive parties and Conservative moderates across the UK to seek to avert a hard Brexit and bring forward proposals to protect Scotland’s place in the single market, even if the rest of the UK leaves**.