Sturgeon to visit Brussels to defend Scotland's EU place


29 Jun 2016

Sturgeon to visit Brussels to defend Scotland's EU place

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Scotland
Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon,. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF

Scotland’s First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon,. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would travel to Brussels on Wednesday for talks to defend Scotland’s place in the European Union after a vote by Britain as a whole to leave the bloc.

Sturgeon said she was “utterly determined” to protect Scotland as she asked an emergency session of the Scottish parliament on Tuesday for a formal mandate for direct talks with the European Union institutions.

“Tomorrow I will make an initial visit to Brussels to set out Scotland’s position and interests” to European Parliament leaders, Sturgeon said.

“Through all of this I am determined, utterly determined, to preserve Scotland’s relationship and place within the EU,” said Sturgeon, head of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP).

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Britain as a whole voted by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU but Scotland voted strongly for Britain to remain — by 62 percent to 38 percent.

Sturgeon also said she was drawing up legislation for a new independence referendum to ensure it could be held within the timeframe of any negotiations for Britain to leave the EU.

“We will prepare the legislation now,” she said.

But she emphasised that Scotland was examining different options and was in “uncharted territory”.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has left it to his successor to begin formal talks on leaving the EU.

The negotiation process can only last a maximum of two years unless all member states agree on an extension.

The British government is ultimately responsible for foreign policy but Sturgeon’s comments were a further sign that Scotland is now trying to forge its own path.

Scotland’s agriculture minister already on Monday met EU farm ministers in Luxembourg after Sturgeon on Saturday called for “immediate talks” with the EU on how to preserve Scotland’s EU membership.

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Experts have suggested one way in which this could happen would be for Scotland to declare independence and then apply to be defined as a “successor state”, effectively inheriting Britain’s EU membership.

Scotland voted decisively against independence in a 2014 referendum, although Sturgeon on Tuesday said last Thursday’s referendum meant “a very real and material change to Scotland’s circumstances”.

As she spoke, hundreds of pro-EU campaigners rallied outside the parliament building.

“We want to give a message to Brussels that we want to stay,” said Joana Barrett, a 33-year-old children’s charity worker.

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Richard Taylor, 48, a computer technician, said: “I feel very strongly about the issue of Scotland staying in the EU.”

On Scotland’s possible independence, he said the “chances have increased”.

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News Source: TheGuardianNigeria, 9jaTales

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