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Nicola Sturgeon calls for more refugees to be admitted to UK

Published 21/09/2015

Nicola Sturgeon met Philip Hammond for the first time since the Conservatives took full control of government
Nicola Sturgeon met Philip Hammond for the first time since the Conservatives took full control of government

Nicola Sturgeon has urged the Foreign Secretary to admit an even greater number of refugees to the UK - and also give Scotland more say in the negotiations over European Union (EU) reform.

The Scottish First Minister met Philip Hammond for the first time since the Conservatives took full control of government at the general election and told him his commitment to admit 20,000 refugees fleeing the war in Syria does not go far enough.

Ms Sturgeon also restated her demand for Scotland to have a greater say in EU reform negotiations, insisting many of the issues will have a material impact on devolved areas such as farming.

The SNP leader is also concerned the outcome of the negotiations will have a impact on the UK Government's stance in the forthcoming in/out referendum on the UK's membership of EU.

Ms Sturgeon has previously demanded a "double majority" rule in which all four UK nations would have to agree to an EU exit by majority, to prevent Scotland or any other nation being dragged out of the EU against the will of its citizens.

Following the meeting, Ms Sturgeon said: "Scotland has a strong track record in welcoming those who have been forced to flee their homes due to war or persecution and we stand ready to help as many people as we can in the current crisis.

"While I welcome the UK Government's commitment to take in more refugees and pledge more aid, it is clear from the distressing scenes we continue to witness in Europe that we need to extend immediate help to more people and look to assist those already here.

"We cannot ignore those in need on our doorstep and I believe the UK should opt in to the extended EU-wide relocation scheme announced by the EU President recently.

"I was able to make that case to the Foreign Secretary today and restate my commitment that Scotland will take in a fair share of those who arrive in the UK looking for refuge.

"Our preparations are well under way, with the humanitarian taskforce set up to take forward our practical response due to meet again this week.

"Humza Yousaf, the minister responsible for that taskforce, also met with the new UK minister for refugees today and was able to share the intelligence, experience and expertise already identified as we begin to work together to plan for arrivals.

"While Mr Yousaf and I made our case directly to the UK Government, the Deputy First Minister was in Brussels where he outlined Scotland's desire to participate in the EU-wide co-ordinated action on refugees that I believe is so desperately needed."

Ms Sturgeon is also understood to have restated the Scottish Government's desire to be informed about the EU negotiation process and to be given an opportunity to influence the process, where appropriate.

A vote to leave the EU against Scotland's will has been mooted as potential trigger for a second Scottish independence referendum but a Scottish Government source said this was not discussed at the meeting.

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