Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon will return to the Edinburgh parliament to propose a second independence referendum if the Scottish government concludes it is “the best or only way to protect Scotland’s place in the EU”.
She addressed the Scottish parliament in an emergency debate following the UK’s referendum vote to leave the EU against the wishes of 62% of Scots who voted to remain.
She is seeking a mandate from Holyrood to defend Scotland’s interests, and is due to travel to Brussels today to meet European Parliament president Martin Schulz.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland spoke clearly for Remain and I am determined that Scotland’s voice will be heard. I want to be clear to parliament that whilst I believe that independence is the best option for Scotland — I don’t think that will come as a surprise to anyone — it is not my starting point in these discussions. My starting point is to protect our relationship with the EU.”
She said Brexit was “a very real and material change to Scotland’s circumstances”.
She said: “During the (Scottish) independence referendum, we were told that staying in the UK meant we could benefit from having guaranteed access to the EU - that was a driving factor in many people’s votes. That is no longer true.”
Removing Scotland from the EU against the will of its citizens would be “democratically unacceptable”, she said.
“Everything must be on the table to protect our place in Europe — including a second independence referendum,” she said.
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