Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Brexit Party has a big responsibility for the “mess” the UK is currently in.
In a clash with the party’s chairman, Richard Tice, during the BBC’s election debate on Friday, Scotland’s First Minister told Mr Tice that people do not trust his party.
Mr Tice had contested Ms Sturgeon’s claim that a Brexit trade deal could not be negotiated and agreed by the end of 2020 if the UK proceeds to leave the EU.
Criticising the Conservatives’ election slogan on Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said: “This ‘get Brexit done’ is the biggest con of this election.
“The deal that Boris Johnson has negotiated, I think a bad deal, is only a withdrawal deal.
“The trade talks haven’t started yet and if they don’t conclude quickly, then we will very soon next year face another no-deal cliff edge and that would be catastrophic.”
Mr Tice said: “Let’s just be very, very clear, it’s only thanks to the Brexit Party that Brexit is happening still at all.
“Three times the Tories promised, promised, promised to get it done, and three times they failed, failed, failed.
“It’s the Brexit Party that ensures that the wishes of 17.4 million will be respected.
“A second referendum would be a disaster for trust in democracy in this country, it would also be a disaster for investment in the economy and for jobs.
“We need to get it sorted and move on.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “Nobody, but nobody, thinks a trade deal can be negotiated and agreed by the end of next year.”
Mr Tice interjected: “That’s nonsense, we do.”
Responding, Ms Sturgeon said: “Yeah, but we don’t trust you, sorry but we don’t trust you.”
“Well I don’t trust you because you don’t trust democracy, you don’t trust 17.4 million people,” the Brexit Party chairman replied.
Ms Sturgeon added: “Well I’m glad, because frankly, the Brexit Party have got a big responsibility for the mess the UK is in.”
Mr Tice said that he was very proud of what his party had achieved since its formation in January this year.
Directing a question towards Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, representing the Tories in the debate, Ms Sturgeon said: “Nobody thinks the deal can be done in a year, and you’ve ruled out extending the transition, so is it the Tory position that they are prepared to countenance a no-deal Brexit with all of the catastrophic effect that will have on jobs and living standards and the economy?
“I would ask Rishi to rule that out tonight.”
Mr Sunak said: “Well we’ve been here before, you and others all said the Prime Minister didn’t want a Brexit deal, you said he couldn’t get a Brexit deal, it would be impossible.
“But he did, he did get a great new deal and he got it in three months, so you were wrong then and you are wrong now.”
Ms Sturgeon continued to press Mr Sunak if the Conservatives would rule out a no-deal Brexit, when Mr Tice replied to Ms Sturgeon: “No, that’s how you negotiate, that’s how you get a good deal, be prepared to walk away.
“You’ve clearly never negotiated. Why not ask me? I’m a businessman, I’ve negotiated deals over three decades. If you’re not prepared to walk away, you’ll get a rubbish deal.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “Because Nigel Farage ducked it in this election and the Brexit Party’s not going to be in government.”