Sturgeon: May ‘willing to consider EU options’

Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she held constructive talks with new UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Edinburgh on Friday — and that May is “willing to consider any options that the Scottish Government now brings forward to secure Scotland’s relationship with the European Union.”

May said: “I’m willing to listen to options and I’ve been very clear with the First Minister today that I want the Scottish government to be fully engaged in our discussion.

“I have already said that I won’t be triggering Article 50 (to start the UK’s withdrawal process from the EU) until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations — I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger Article 50.”

Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the EU by 62% to 38% — but the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%. All 32 council areas in Scotland returned majorities to remain in the EU.

Sturgeon has said it would be democratically unacceptable for Scotland to face the prospect of being taken out of the EU against its will.

Sturgeon said: “The process that is now taken forward by the UK Government will be open and flexible and the Scottish Government will be fully involved in that.

“These negotiations have yet to take shape and the UK Government don’t yet know exactly how they will proceed from here, but there is an agreement that Scottish Government officials will be very closely involved in discussions to give shape to this process and will be involved in that process.

“Crucially, and this is the most important point from my point of view, is that that process will be open to considering options that the Scottish Government brings forward.”

Sturgeon said she stressed to the Prime Minister that she will make sure Scotland’s interests are protected and she will continue to examine every option possible, including a second independence referendum.

Sturgeon added: “I’ve said previously that if we want to protect our relationship with the European Union then Scotland may have to consider becoming an independent member.

“If it proves not to be possible to fully protect Scotland’s interests through the UK process then the Prime Minister knows that a second independence referendum is of course on the table.

“However, I’ve also been consistently clear that I want to examine all options for protecting Scotland’s position, protecting our interests, protecting our relationship with the EU.

“That’s why I’ve assembled a team of experts that will advise me on the options that might exist, and it was very important today to get a commitment from the Prime Minister to listen to options that the Scottish Government will bring forward.”