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Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish Parliament could block Brexit

Published 26/06/2016

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made clear her resolution for another independence referendum
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made clear her resolution for another independence referendum

Nicola Sturgeon has warned she would consider asking Holyrood to block the UK's departure from Europe if MSPs are required to give formal backing for Brexit

The First Minister said if the Scottish Parliament has to give its consent, she would "of course" consider asking MSPs not to do this.

In Scotland 62% of people voted to stay in the European Union (EU), a situation in stark contrast with the result of the UK-wide vote, which saw 52% opt to leave.

With the UK now "in turmoil", the SNP leader said she would "find it hard to believe" that Holyrood would not be required to back the UK leaving the EU.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he did not think the Scottish Parliament would be "in a position to block Brexit".

Ms Sturgeon, however, stressed that the UK was in "uncharted territory" in the wake of the referendum result and " all of the complexities that have been thrown up by the vote on Thursday".

With laws passed by Holyrood required to comply with European legislation on human rights, she was pressed on the issue on BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said: " The issue you're talking about is whether there would require to be a legislative consent motion, or motions in the Scottish Parliament for the legislation that extricates the UK from the European Union.

"Looking at it from a logical perspective I find it hard to believe that there wouldn't be that requirement, I suspect the UK Government will take a very different view on that and we'll have to see where that discussion ends up."

When asked if she would consider asking the Scottish Parliament not to back a motion for legislative consent, she stated: " Of course, if the Scottish Parliament was judging this on the basis of what's right for Scotland then the option of saying we're not going to vote for something that is against Scotland's interests, of course that is on the table."

She continued: " I care about the rest of the UK, I care about England, that's why I'm so upset at the UK wide decision that's been taken. But my job as First Minister, the Scottish Parliament's job, is to judge these things on the basis of what's in the interests of people in Scotland."

She said she could imagine the "fury" such a move could spark in England, but added: "I t is perhaps similar to the fury of many people in Scotland right now as we face the prospect of being taken out of the European Union against our will."

But Mr Mundell insisted: "W e have to respect the result on Thursday, even if we don't like it. It was a vote by people across the UK as to whether or not the UK remained in the EU."

The UK Government minister, who had campaigned for the UK to remain in Europe, added: "I personally don't believe the Scottish Parliament is in a position to block Brexit."

Scottish Conservative MSP and law professor Adam Tomkins also said that MSPs had "no such power".

He tweeted: "Lots of nonsense on here about Holyrood having power to block or veto Brexit. It has no such power."

"Holyrood has the power to show or to withhold its consent. But withholding consent is not the same as blocking."

Ms Sturgeon also warned David Cameron's successor it would be ''unacceptable'' for Westminster to veto a second referendum on Scottish independence in the wake of the vote for Brexit.

She stressed Scotland had voted ''overwhelmingly'' to stay part of the EU and her priority is now to have talks with Brussels with the aim of keeping the country in the EU.

No talks have taken place as yet, she said, but added she would be doing so ''in the next few days''.

But if negotiations between Scotland and Europe fail, she has said another vote on independence is ''very much on the table''.

Ms Sturgeon told ITV's Peston on Sunday programme: ''If the Scottish Parliament votes to have another referendum in circumstances where that is the only thing we think we can do to protect our interests then frankly it is inconceivable that a Westminster government, who have thrust this situation upon us, would seek to block that, and I would seriously caution any prime minister, present or future, against doing that.

''It would be completely democratically unacceptable.''

She hit out as two new polls showed a majority in favour of Scotland leaving the UK.

A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times in Scotland found that when ''don't knows'' were excluded, 52% of those likely to vote would back independence, with 48% in favour of continuing as part of the UK.

A total of 626 people were questions for the research, which was conducted on Friday and Saturday, after the European referendum result was declared.

An online poll by ScotPulse - which is not a member of the British Polling Council - for the Sunday Post put support for independence higher than that, saying 59% would vote Yes in a second independence referendum, 32% would vote No and the remainder of the 1,600 sample were undecided.

The First Minister also said Scotland would have a "stronger" case for continuing to use the pound than it did in 2014, and that she is "not considering joining the euro".

She told the Murnaghan show on Sky News: "This is not about Scotland wanting to leave anywhere, this is about Scotland wanting to stay and protect the situation we've got just now.

"So if anything the moral case we've got for keeping our own pound and for keeping the circumstances we have right now is even stronger than in 2014."

Leader of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson, insisted the Edinburgh parliament did not have the required authority to block Brexit.

She told BBC News: "The advice that I have taken suggests this is not within the power of Holyrood."

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