October 27, 2017 / 10:17 AM / a year ago

Scotland's Sturgeon seeks assurance on Brexit transition

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, sits on stage at the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference in Glasgow, Scotland, October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has sought confirmation from Prime Minister Theresa May that Britain is urgently seeking a transition agreement with the European Union before the end of the year.

Sturgeon, who heads the devolved government, said in a letter to May she was “increasingly concerned” that Brexit talks would end in no deal and see Britain crash out, following contradictory indications from UK government officials earlier this week.

“The clarity of your intentions, and thus the confidence of business that there will be a sensible transition period agreed quickly, has been seriously undermined,” she wrote. “This relates in particular to your comments suggesting no transition can be agreed, or formalized, until there is agreement on the future relationship (with the EU).”

The UK government said on Wednesday it wants an agreement of the outline of transitional arrangements in early 2018, and that it expects such an agreement to be quickly and easily reached.

Asked about Sturgeon’s letter, a spokesman for May said: “We will respond in due course”.

Uncertainty around formalizing a transition period ahead of agreement on Britain’s future relationship with the EU was causing confusion and damaging business confidence, Sturgeon argued.

She said she was seeking confirmation that the prime minister was “urgently seeking agreement on a transition arrangement of at least two years, with the aim of securing that agreement by the end of this year.”

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Additional reporting by William James in London; Editing by Stephen Addison

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