Scotland is in strong position to block Brexit, says Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish First Minister has already said she will not allow the UK to take Scotland out of the EU against its wishes

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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.

Ms May had said that Article 50 would not be triggered until a “UK-wide approach” had been agreed.

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.” 

What is Article 50?

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.”

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.”