Monday

19th Aug 2019

First minister: Brexit would trigger Scottish referendum

  • Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon laid out her vision of Scotland in the EU in a speech in Brussels on 2 June (Photo: Scottish Government)

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon went to Brussels on Tuesday (2 June) to make the case for Scottish influence in the EU and warn British PM David Cameron of another independence referendum if the UK leaves the Union.

Noting that the attachment to Europe played a part in the independence referendum last year, Sturgeon said that a vote to leave the EU would trigger "a clamour for another independence referendum".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Sturgeon said that the attachment to Europe played a part in the Scottish independence referendum last year. (Photo: Valentina Pop)

"If Scotland were to be taken out of Europe despite voting as a nation to have remained in it would provoke a strong backlash amongst many ordinary voters," she said, reiterating the Scottish independentists' claim for a "double majority".


According to this proposed double lock system, a Brexit would be possible only if Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland voted for it.

Sturgeon also said that Cameron's partners in Europe would not "do whatever it takes, regardless of the consequences for others, to keep the UK in".

"That is part of the reason I think David Cameron has set off down a very dangerous path that he can't necessarily control."

Invited by the European Policy Centre think tank, a relaxed and witty Sturgeon said she would "make an overwhelmingly positive case for Europe" and detailed her vision of a Scottish EU membership based on principles and interests.

"I believe unequivocally that membership in the European Union is in Scotland's best interest, and I happen to believe it is in UK's best interest as well," she said, noting that Scotland "can't act in isolation, whether as part of the UK or as an independent country".

"There is absolutely nothing contradictory in independent countries recognising their interdependence and choosing to pool some sovereignty for mutual advantage. On the contrary that is the way in the modern world," she said.

At the same time, she said, "Scotland's commitment to the EU is also founded on our awareness of the practical benefits that it brings", citing the fight against climate change as well as energy security, trade, social protection for workers and freedom to travel.

"The EU provides the market for almost half of our international exports," she noted, adding that "for many investors, EU membership is a vital selling point".

Euro

Sturgeon's commitment to Europe does not go so far as advocating that an independent Scotland adopt the euro.

"I don't think an independent Scotland is going to enter the euro in the forseeable future," she said.

Contrary to David Cameron, Nicola Surgeon thinks that "reforms [of the EU] can be implemented within the existing treaty framework rather than requiring treaty change".

But she said reforms should address two key priorities.

First, "the EU should focus on economic and social policies which should make a tangible difference to the lives of its citizens".

Autonomy

Sturgeon asks for more autonomy for local authorities, especially "to protect life and promote health", while the EU would be in charge of larger issues like the digital single market, international trade or energy policy.

The second priority pointed by the Scottish first minister is EU regulation, which "should be based on principles of subsidiarity and proportionality".

Heading a 5-million region that came close to independence last year, Nicola Sturgeon also posed as a would-be EU player.

Noting that "it is important that Scottish views and interests are reflected" in EU decision making, she suggested again that "a Scottish minister is able to replace a UK minister [at a council meeting] when he is absent in Brussels".

"We have a strong ability and a strong responsibility to make our voice heard," she said.

Cameron kicks off EU reform tour

UK prime minister David Camerion will meet five government leaders this week about Britain's future in the EU. Meanwhile, Germany and France have plans for more eurozone integration.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

Von der Leyen aims to 'rebalance Europe'

The German EU Commission president-elect hopes to bridge divisions within the EU, as she meets with EU leaders setting up her team of commissioners.

Johnson's call for new Brexit deal hits EU 'no'

The UK will not nominate a new EU commissioner, the new British PM said in his first address to parliament, and insisted that the Irish backstop can be renegotiated - without giving any specifics on alternative solutions.

Selmayr shifted to Vienna, ahead of von der Leyen arrival

London and Washington had been rumoured, but instead the German political mastermind behind the EU commission will now work as a quasi-EU ambassador in Vienna. He irked many in Brussels but also shook things up.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us