Sturgeon 'Determined' To Find EU Options

The First Minister is expected to say she is "determined'' to find options to protect Scotland's key interests during EU negotiations in a speech in Edinburgh today.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is speaking just over a month on from the EU referendum at the conference of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank.

IPPR director Russell Gunson has said the Scottish Government lacks "a genuine commitment to the UK'', so it is up to unionists to present options for Scotland's EU future if they want to protect the UK - which both governments must pursue with "equal vigour''.

Addressing an audience of business leaders, charities and public-sector organisations, Ms Sturgeon will reflect on the EU referendum campaign and the result.

Voters in Scotland were 62% against leaving the EU despite a UK-wide win for the Leave campaign.

She will also talk about how to handle negotiations regarding Scotland's future in the EU, having previously pledged to "explore all options'', but said a second Scottish independence referendum is ``highly likely''.

Ms Sturgeon is expected to say: "I am determined that we find or create the options that best-preserve the five key interests that depend on our relationship with the EU.

"Our democratic interests - the need to make sure Scotland's voice is heard and our wishes respected.

"Our 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.

"Our interests in social protection - ensuring the continued protection of workers' and wider human rights.

"Our interest in 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.

"Our interest in 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.

"Democracy, economic prosperity, social protection, solidarity and influence - these are the vital interests that we now seek to safeguard.

"They are not abstract. They are real and they matter - for jobs, the economy, trade, investment and living standards.

"That's why my task today and tomorrow, and throughout the length of the coming negotiations, will be to protect Scotland's relationship with and interests in the European Union, and to explore every avenue and every option for doing so.''

Murdo Fraser, shadow finance secretary, said: "It is right that the Scottish Government should be examining how best to further our interests as the United Kingdom begins negotiations with the European Union.''

"However, as two million Scots agreed in 2014, leaving the United Kingdom is not in Scotland's interests, and the Scottish Government should therefore end its flirtation with yet another divisive referendum on independence. Its focus as we enter this crucial period should instead be to work with the UK Government to get the right deal for families and firms across Scotland."


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