Sturgeon: New PM Must Protect Scotland In EU

13 July 2016, 08:08 | Updated: 13 July 2016, 08:10

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has called on new prime minister Theresa May to respect Scotland's vote to remain part of the European Union.

The SNP leader and First Minister urged Mrs May to make securing Scotland's place within the EU one of the "priority issues'' as she takes on her new job at 10 Downing Street.

The new Tory leader will succeed David Cameron on Wednesday, and while Ms Sturgeon said she has "many political differences'' with the new PM, she added that they have a "duty'' to work together in the best interests of their two countries.

Mrs May campaigned for the UK to remain in Europe in the run-up to June's referendum, but since then she has declared that "Brexit means Brexit'', and she will now negotiate exit terms.

But while the UK voted to leave Europe, in Scotland the majority backed remaining part of the EU - a split which has prompted Ms Sturgeon to state a second Scottish independence referendum is "highly likely''.

The First Minister is in London for a series of meetings, including with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar after residents of the British territory overwhelming voted to stay in the EU.

She said: "I look forward to developing a constructive relationship with the new prime minister. We have many political differences but also a duty to work in the best interests of the people we serve - that will demand, from both of us, respect for each other's positions and a willingness to work together where we can.

"A key part of my responsibility in the months ahead - in line with the democratic will of the Scottish people - is to protect Scotland's place in the European Union and avoid, as far as possible, the economic damage and prolonged uncertainty that Brexit will entail.

"That is why my message to Theresa May is that the question of Scotland's continued place in the European Union must be among the priority issues she addresses as prime minister.

"The incoming PM has said to her party that 'Brexit means Brexit' - but she must not forget that Scotland voted to stay in the EU, and so for us, remain means remain.

"While I do not agree with the decision on the EU reached by people in England and Wales, I do respect it. I hope the new PM will show the same respect for the decision reached by the Scottish people.

"Indeed it will be an early test for the new prime minister to demonstrate that the process the UK Government will now embark on is open to considering options to protect Scotland's relationship with the EU.''