Theresa May is expected to visit Wales this week as she commences a tour of the devolved nations ahead of triggering Article 50 within the next fortnight.
As part of a series of visits around the UK – including to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – the Prime Minister, according to Downing Street, “will be engaging and listening to people from right across the nation as we prepare to leave the EU as one United Kingdom”.
It comes as Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, used her speech at the SNP spring conference to renew her assault on Ms May amid a constitutional standoff between the SNP and Downing Street over a second independence referendum.
She added: “The Prime Minister’s attitude should worry all of us hoping that negotiations with Europe will not be a disaster because – and let me put it bluntly – if she shows the same condescension and inflexibility, the same tin ear, to other EU countries as she has to Scotland then Brexit process will hit the rocks.”
However, Downing Street sources rejected the series of visits are a reaction to any recent events but they will inevitably be seen as an eleventh-hour dash across the nation to calm tensions ahead of invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the untested mechanism for a member state to exit the EU.
The Prime Minister is expected to trigger Article 50 within the next fortnight – before her self-imposed deadline of the end of March.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Ms May said: “From my first day on the steps of Downing Street, I made clear my determination to strengthen and sustain the precious union. I have also been clear that as we leave the European Union I will work to deliver a deal that works for the whole of the UK.
“I want every part of the United Kingdom to be able to make the most of the opportunities ahead and for Welsh businesses to benefit from the freest possible trade as part of a global trading nation.”
She will be accompanied on her trip to Wales with David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, and Alan Cairns, the Welsh Secretary. It will also coincide with the signing of a £1.3bn Swansea City deal between the UK Government, local authorities and the Welsh Government, which aims to create more than 9,000 jobs in the region.