An independent Scotland may need to take "phased approach" to EU membership, says Nicola Sturgeon
The First Minister said uncertainties over Brexit meant that if Scotland voted for independence it might be forced to join the European free trade area first before later seeking full membership of the European Union
EU flag - PA
An independent Scotland may need to take a “phased approach” to EU membership, according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Sturgeon said that uncertainties over Brexit meant that if Scotland voted for independence it might be forced to join the European free trade area before later seeking full membership of the European Union by “necessity”.
The First Minister formally requested a Section 30 order from the UK Government to transfer the powers to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence back in March, following the UK vote to leave the EU in June 2016.
But the UK Government warned it will not back a second referendum until the terms of Brexit have been agreed.
Questioned on an independent Scotland’s relationship with Europe, Sturgeon said: “My position is I want Scotland to be in the EU. Now we have to set out if we’re in an independence referendum, and we’re not in that right now, the process for regaining or retaining, depending where we are in the Brexit process, EU membership.
“Now it may be that we have a phased approach to that by necessity.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw said Sturgeon was playing political games with the electorate, while Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said Scots can “see through Nicola Sturgeon’s contortions on Europe”.
Carlaw said: “She claims we must have a referendum on independence because we’re leaving the EU. Now, in a cynical attempt to win back leave voters who have deserted the SNP, she refuses to say whether an independent Scotland would go back in”.
“And her flirtation with Efta would leave us with all the obligations of the EU but no voice in EU decision-making.”
Speaking in Edinburgh the First Minister will argue that, with immigration essential to maintaining Scotland’s population, “the case for a different approach here is, to my mind, overwhelming”
In a new paper, Scotland's Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment, the Scottish Government mapped out three possible outcomes from the UK’s negotiations over Brexit
Hopes of Brexit deal fade amid calls for 'regulatory alignment' Irish border deal to be extended across the UK
Deal for Northern Ireland should apply UK-wide, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson warns