THE First Minister has called on the UK Government to “stop the clock” on its Brexit plans, and to urgently avoid a no-deal outcome.

Nicola Sturgeon spoke after a meeting in No 10 with Prime Minister Theresa May.

May met the first ministers of Scotland and Wales along with representatives from the Northern Ireland civil service as she urged the leaders to “pull together” to back her proposed withdrawal agreement.

Her re-assurances did not satisfy the First Minister, who instead called for time to be made to seek alternative options.

Following the Joint Ministerial Committee, Sturgeon said: “I have urged the Prime Minister to seek approval from the EU to extend Article 50 – allowing for an alternative solution and to stop the clock on the deal that has been proposed, as it clearly does not command support.

“With only 100 days now left before the UK is due to leave the EU, the UK Government must make clear it will not countenance the possibility of a no deal, and start putting people’s jobs and living standards first.

“The urgent priority now is to secure support for an option other than the Prime Minister’s proposal or a no-deal outcome, which is why an Article 50 extension has become essential.

“While this meeting was an opportunity to put forward the Scottish Government’s view, there has been far too little meaningful consultation with the devolved administrations throughout the Brexit process.”

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Asked if the Prime Minister had set out what was being done to win assurances from Brussels on her proposals, Sturgeon said it was “a wee bit nebulous”.

That echoed the remarks of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at last week’s EU summit – which infuriated May.

In the Commons, Labour shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer also called for “serious consideration” on extending Article 50. He said Labour MPs would not be forced by the shortness of time into choosing between May’s deal and no deal.

Starmer added: “I don’t think for one moment that this House if going to accept the binary choice that the Prime Minister will attempt to put before us.

“A choice between bad and even worse is not a meaningful choice. Nor is leaving the EU on March 29 next year without a deal viable.

“It has never been viable and as every day goes past it becomes less and less viable.”

The National:

Environment Secretary Michael Gove admitted a no-deal Brexit would have a “negative economic effect”, but defended it as only a short-term hit.

He told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee: “It is also the case that those impacts will be acute for a short period and mitigable – not totally but to an extent.

“Supplies of ambient products that are stored without chilling or freezing, I think will be fine. If people want Belgian beer or French wine, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”

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Meanwhile, in Brussels, the European Commission activated plans for a possible no-deal Brexit on March 29, making clear that they are designed to “protect the vital interests of the EU”.

A day after the Cabinet gave the green light to full-scale no-deal preparations in the UK, the Commission said it was “essential and urgent” to act to avoid “major disruption” if the UK crashes out of the bloc without reaching an agreement.

Plans cover 14 areas most likely to be affected, ranging from financial services to aviation, customs and carbon emissions trading.

Business groups issued a stark warning of the threat of no-deal Brexit, saying many firms are now reaching “the point of no return”.

Firms are pausing or diverting investment that should be boosting productivity, jobs and pay, said the British Chambers of Commerce, CBI, EEF, Institute of Directors and Federation of Small Businesses in a joint statement.

Hear The National's thoughts on the Tories' contempt for Scotland ...