Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland is in “a strong position” to block Britain’s exit from the European Union, in the wake of comments made by Prime Minister Theresa May after the pair met in Edinburgh.
Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr whether this meant Scotland had now effectively been given a veto on the UK leaving the EU, Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon said: “That appears to be an interpretation that some people but on the Prime Minister’s remarks. Certainly from what she said after the meeting that puts us in a very strong position.
“It puts me in a strong position, of course it puts a responsibility on my shoulders to think through what the options are.”
Ms Sturgeon has consistently said she will not allow the UK to take Scotland out of the EU against its wishes, the country having voted overwhelmingly to remain during last month’s referendum.
“We are in uncharted territory and when you are in uncharted territory with basically a blank sheet of paper in front of you, you have an opportunity to think things that might have previously been unthinkable,” she said.
“Scotland did not vote for any of those consequences. We voted by a significant margin to avoid those consequences and stay in. That gives me a mandate to try to protect our relationship with the EU. If that is not possible within the UK well then I have been very clear that the option of a second independence referendum has to be on the table.”
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
1/6 More expensive foreign holidays
The first practical effect of a vote to Leave is that the pound will be worth less abroad, meaning foreign holidays will cost us more
2/6 No immediate change in immigration status
The Prime Minister will have to address other immediate concerns. He is likely to reassure nationals of other EU countries living in the UK that their status is unchanged. That is what the Leave campaign has said, so, even after the Brexit negotiations are complete, those who are already in the UK would be allowed to stay
3/6 Higher inflation
A lower pound means that imports would become more expensive. This is likely to mean the return of inflation – a phenomenon with which many of us are unfamiliar because prices have been stable for so long, rising at no more than about 2 per cent a year. The effect may probably not be particularly noticeable in the first few months. At first price rises would be confined to imported goods – food and clothes being the most obvious – but inflation has a tendency to spread and to gain its own momentum
4/6 Interest rates might rise
The trouble with inflation is that the Bank of England has a legal obligation to keep it as close to 2 per cent a year as possible. If a fall in the pound threatens to push prices up faster than this, the Bank will raise interest rates. This acts against inflation in three ways. First, it makes the pound more attractive, because deposits in pounds will earn higher interest. Second, it reduces demand by putting up the cost of borrowing, and especially by taking larger mortgage payments out of the economy. Third, it makes it more expensive for businesses to borrow to expand output
5/6 Did somebody say recession?
Mr Carney, the Treasury and a range of international economists have warned about this. Many Leave voters appear not to have believed them, or to think that they are exaggerating small, long-term effects. But there is no doubt that the Leave vote is a negative shock to the economy. This is because it changes expectations about the economy’s future performance. Even though Britain is not actually be leaving the EU for at least two years, companies and investors will start to move money out of Britain, or to scale back plans for expansion, because they are less confident about what would happen after 2018
6/6 And we wouldn’t even get our money back
All this will be happening while the Prime Minister, whoever he or she is, is negotiating the terms of our future access to the EU single market. In the meantime, our trade with the EU would be unaffected, except that companies elsewhere in the EU may be less interested in buying from us or selling to us, expecting tariff barriers to go up in two years’ time. Whoever the Chancellor is, he or she may feel the need to bring in a new Budget
If the UK were to leave the EU, and Scotland attempted to rejoin after voting for independence, it would have to agree to less favourable conditions, such as joining the euro and the open border zone. Ms Sturgeon has previously said Scotland could remain in the EU while England and Wales leave it, but this is legally complex.
“There are opportunities,” she added. “Things have changed fundamentally. There is a mood there and what I encountered in Brussels was a warmth, an openness and a great sympathy to the position that Scotland finds itself in.
“Nobody was saying to me, and I certainly wasn’t assuming, that it would be easy and there are significant challenges along the way. But there was a certain openness that the Scottish government has not found previously in Brussels and certainly didn’t encounter during the 2014 independence referendum.”
Earlier in the programme, Labour leadership candidate Angela Eagle had said that, like Scotland, London hadn’t voted leave, and nor had Liverpool or Manchester.
“I would point out gently to Angela Eagle that there is a different between Scotland and Liverpool and London,” Ms Sturgeon said. “Scotland is not a region of the UK, Scotland is a nation and if we cannot protect our interests within a UK that is going to be changing fundamentally, then that right of Scotland to consider the options of independence has to be there.”