Sturgeon's Warning On "Hard Brexit" Plan
17 January 2017, 15:48
Nicola Sturgeon has said a different future for Scotland is more likely following the Prime Minister's announcement that the UK will leave the European single market.
The First Minister said: ''It seems the Westminster Tory Government now think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it. They must start to understand how wrong they are.
''The UK Government cannot be allowed to take us out of the EU and the single market, regardless of the impact on our economy, jobs, living standards and our reputation as an open, tolerant country, without Scotland having the ability to choose between that and a different future.
''With her comments today, the Prime Minister has only succeeded in making that choice more likely.''
Ms Sturgeon also called for ''serious engagement'' on Scotland's proposal to be allowed to remain in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves.
She said there is no evidence that proposal, or the rest of the Scottish Government's plan on the country's future in Europe, had been considered, and she added that must change in ''short order''.
Ms Sturgeon added: ''Scotland did not vote for the direction set out in the Prime Minister's speech today - and it is not in our national interests.
''For all her warm words, it is now clear that the UK is heading for a hard Brexit, which threatens to be economically catastrophic.
''Decisions are being driven not by the rational best interests of the country, but by the obsessions of the hard-right of the Tory party.
''It is also becoming clear that a more fundamental issue is emerging - not just whether the UK is in or out of the EU, but what kind of country it is going to be.
''The Prime Minister gave the game away towards the end of her speech when she talked of the potential for the UK to become a low-wage, low-tax, de-regulated economy.
''That would see a race to the bottom replace our membership of the single market, and everyone - perhaps apart from the very wealthiest - would be worse off as a result.
''The Scottish Government set out, before Christmas, compromise proposals that would protect Scotland's interests - and we made clear the central importance of single market membership to Scotland's economic and wider national interests.
''While discussions on those proposals continue, and while the Prime Minister today reiterated her pledge to give our plan proper consideration, we have not yet seen evidence that Scotland's voice is being listened to or our interests taken into account.
''That must change in short order if there is to be any confidence that Scotland's interests can be met within the UK.
''If, as the PM has now signalled, the UK is not staying in the single market, then there must be serious engagement on our proposal to allow Scotland to do so.''
Scotland voted to remain in the EU by 62% to 38%, and immediately following the Brexit vote the First Minister said a second Scottish independence referendum was ''more likely''.