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Nicola Sturgeon stresses Scotland’s ‘interdependence’ with Europe

An independent Scotland’s approach would be in stark contrast to the ‘isolationism that characterises Brexit’, she has told the French Parliament.

Scottish independence would contrast the “‘isolationism’ of Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon said. (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish independence would contrast the “‘isolationism’ of Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon said. (Jane Barlow/PA)

An independent Scotland would seek to be a “close ally” of other European nations, in contrast to the “isolationism that characterises Brexit”, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.

The First Minister said if Scotland was to leave the UK “independence would see us recognising and embracing our interdependence with other nations”.

She told an audience at the Assemblee Nationale in the French Parliament that the two years since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union had “underlined the importance” of that.

The SNP leader has pledged to make public her thoughts on the possible timing of any second Scottish independence referendum in the coming weeks.

As she addressed members of the French Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, she was clear Scotland should “have the option to choose a different course by opting to become an independent country” when there is “greater clarity about the terms of Brexit”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I will say more about independence at a future date.

“One thing I do want to stress, however, is that for the Scottish Government, independence is not about the isolationism that characterises Brexit – instead independence would see us recognising and embracing our interdependence with other nations.

“We will always seek to be close allies and partners with our neighbours in Europe.

“The last two years, to my mind, have underlined the importance of that position.”

The First Minister repeated her calls for the UK to hold a second vote on Brexit, with the option of remaining in the EU to be on the ballot paper.

She said: “There is a strong democratic case for that. For Parliament, it is a way to break the deadlock.

“For Scotland, it is an opportunity for our wish to stay in the EU to be respected.

“And for all voters, it is a chance to make a decision based on much more detailed information than was ever made available in 2016.”

A second vote could be based on a much clearer understanding of what the leave option actually means in practice Nicola Sturgeon

A lack of information at the time of the European referendum allowed Brexiteers to portray the EU as a  “scapegoat” for wider concerns about austerity and inequality, Ms Sturgeon said.

She said: “At the time of the referendum, people who opted to leave knew that they were voting against EU membership but they did not know what they were voting for.

“That allowed the EU to serve as a scapegoat for wider concerns – for example, an entirely justified dissatisfaction about austerity, inequality and stagnant living standards.

“A second vote could be based on a much clearer understanding of what the leave option actually means in practice.”

She conceded there is no majority for a second Brexit referendum in the UK Parliament at present but said this “remains one way out of the problems the UK has created for itself”.

As a result of this, the First Minister added: “It is a course the Scottish Government will support.

“We cannot endorse the UK Government’s current Brexit proposals and we will do everything in our power to secure a better outcome for Scotland, the UK and Europe.”

PA

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