IT IS NOW over three months since the Brexit referendum and we are still none the wiser as to what the new Conservative Government under Theresa May actually wants by way of a deal with Europe.

At the Tory conference in Birmingham, Mrs May came clean that Article 50 (which triggers the Brexit negotiation procedure) will be invoked by the end of March. That means it will have taken a full nine months from the referendum to start negotiations. But still not a glimmer as to what the Government wants to achieve: hard or soft exit, being inside or outside the Single Market, or WTO rules. No wonder, after Mrs May’s speech, the pound sank to a new 31-year low – showing that business remains worried by Brexit uncertainties.

One thing that we do know is that MPs will not be given a chance to vote on Article 50. Nor are elected members to be consulted on the general line of the negotiations. This is far from democratic. Mrs May argues that it would give the Government’s negotiating hand away to seek Parliamentary approval of the nature of the deal being sought with the EU. That is nonsense. Certainly, a canny negotiator does not reveal their final, bottom line. But that is different from agreeing the strategic nature of the new relationship the Government is seeking with the EU. The SNP, for instance, wishes to stay inside the Single Market, meaning free moment of goods, services and people.

I suspect the true reason Mrs May will not give Parliament a vote on Article 50 is because the Conservative cabinet remains deeply divided over what kind of Brexit it wants. This is a view held even by Conservative MPs I know. It does not help that Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, has gone from accusing Boris Johnson of selling a lie during the referendum campaign to saying she now has “more confidence” in the Foreign Secretary. I thought Ruth was more honest than to try and cover up the deep divisions that still haunt the Tory party over Brexit.

When Parliament returns after the conference recess, I and my SNP colleagues will be demanding straight answers from ministers. East Lothian farmers and food exporters need clarity about the future of agricultural support and Queen Margaret University needs reassurance that research funding will continue after 2020. Answers please, Mrs May.