Boris Johnson was left in no doubt of the opposition he will face from the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales if he seeks to push ahead with a no-deal Brexit.
In calls with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford, Mr Johnson was warned he would face stiff resistance if he sought to leave the EU without an agreement with Brussels.
Mr Drakeford made it “emphatically clear” that a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” and cause “profound damage”, a spokesman for the Welsh First Minister said.
Ms Sturgeon reiterated the Scottish Government’s “strong opposition” to a no-deal Brexit and urged the Prime Minister to change course.
Mr Johnson has made clear that he intends to get the UK out of the European Union on October 31, with or without a deal.
Mr Drakeford’s spokesman said the call was a “mutually respectful conversation” but “the First Minister made it emphatically clear that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for Wales – particularly on our agricultural and manufacturing sectors – and would be opposed by the Welsh Government”.
“The First Minister told the Prime Minister that whilst we would continue to prepare as best we could for a no-deal Brexit, no preparation would ever wipe away the profound damage a no-deal Brexit would have on Wales and the rest of the UK,” the spokesman said.
First Minister @NicolaSturgeon and @FMWales Mark Drakeford have written a joint letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reiterate their concerns around Brexit and urge cooperation with the devolved Parliaments.
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) July 25, 2019
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The First Minister and Prime Minister spoke by telephone on Thursday evening.
“The First Minister congratulated him on his appointment before reiterating the Scottish Government’s strong opposition to a no-deal Brexit.
“She confirmed that the Scottish Government will continue to make every possible preparation for no deal as long as it remains a threat, but urged the Prime Minister to change course and avoid this.”
The Scottish and Welsh leaders sent Mr Johnson a joint letter shortly after his appointment to say it would be “unconscionable” for the UK to leave the European Union without a Brexit deal.
As well as Ms Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford, Downing Street said Mr Johnson spoke to the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill.
“They had positive discussions,” the spokesman said.
“The PM has set out that he is going be the leader for the whole of the United Kingdom and he wants to unite the country and unleash the productive power of every corner of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
The spokesman said Mr Johnson had told the first meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday that – as promised during his leadership campaign – he would be taking the title of Minister for the Union alongside that of Prime Minister.
“It is a statement of his commitment to the strengthening of the Union and the value he places upon it,” the spokesman said.