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New UK Brexit proposal urgently needed, says Scotland's Sturgeon

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told British Prime Minister Theresa May that a new more inclusive plan for Britain to leave the European Union is urgently needed to protect the economy and bring people together.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon addresses journalists in Edinburgh, Britain, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

In a letter dated June 13, Sturgeon urged May to maintain Britain’s membership of the EU’s single market to “bring clarity, in place of the current confusion, and provide a coherent base for the UK’s future relationship with the EU”.

She also said the Brexit negotiating team should include representatives from Britain’s devolved governments.

Sturgeon is one of several politicians who want to change May’s mind over Brexit after the ruling Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority in a national election last week.

Britain as a whole voted to leave the EU in a referendum last June but most Scots wanted to stay in, leading Sturgeon to push for a separate deal in the past year.

Ruth Davidson, who has been in the limelight since leading the Scottish Conservatives to a much-improved performance in last week’s national election, is also seeking a softer approach to the “Hard Brexit” envisaged by many prominent Conservatives.

“It is now clear that a new proposal is needed urgently to protect the economy and bring people together,” Sturgeon said in a letter posted on the Scottish government’s website.

“The EU itself has expressed concerns that time is passing and the UK has yet to appoint a negotiating team with a stable mandate, so close to the start of talks,” she added.

Brexit talks are due to start next week.

Sturgeon also asked for a cross-party advisory group and for the British government to “reflect on what the election results mean for the important of finding an outcome from Brexit that meets the needs and aspirations of all of the people and nations of the UK”.

“It will not be possible for the UK to effectively implement the outcome of Brexit negotiations without the co-operation of devolved governments. It is therefore essential that we are part of the negotiating process,” her letter said.

Prior to the election, Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP), backed by the devolved Scottish parliament, had called for a second independence referendum once the terms of the Brexit agreement were known.

That strategy has been cast into doubt however by the results in Scotland of last week’s election. The SNP lost 21 seats in the British parliament, although it still won 35.

The Conservatives, who had held just one seat before, added 12 for a total of 13, helping May cling to power while also changing the equation north of the border.

Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; Editing by Angus MacSwan