Flaying what she said was London’s lack of planning for a Brexit vote, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday independence must be an option for pro-EU Scotland if its interests were not protected in negotiations with Brussels.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the European Union in the June 23 referendum and is keen to continue its access to the European single market and engagement at other levels of the union. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government started initial talks with EU leaders last week.
“In fact, the absence of any leadership and the lack of any advance planning both from the politicians who proposed the referendum and from those who campaigned for a leave vote surely must count as one of the most shameful abdications of responsibility in modern political history,” Sturgeon said, speaking in Edinburgh.
She set out Scotland’s five key interests that she said must be protected in Brexit talks — democratic interests - "the need to make sure Scotland's voice is heard and our wishes respected", economic interests - "safeguarding free movement of labour, access to a single market of 500 million people and the funding that our farmers and universities depend on", social protection - "ensuring the continued protection of workers and wider human rights", solidarity - "the ability of independent nations to come together for the common good of all our citizens, to tackle crime and terrorism and deal with global challenges like climate change" and having influence - "making sure that we don't just have to abide by the rules of the single market but also have a say in shaping them".
“If we find our interests can't be protected in the UK context, independence must be an option and Scotland must have the right to consider it,” Sturgeon said.
Scotland last voted in a referendum on independence in 2014, with 55% voting against leaving the United Kingdom and 44% in favour.