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Updated | Scotland wants EU market access, proposes second UK independence referendum

Scotland wants to maintain access to the European Union’s single market after the UK leaves the bloc, and suggests among other proposals to hold a second independence referendum

20 December 2016, 12:59pm
Last updated on 20 December 2016, 4:17pm
Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland wants a deal that allows it access to the single market and free movement of the EU migrant
Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland wants a deal that allows it access to the single market and free movement of the EU migrant
Scotland wants to stay in the European Union's single market after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc and will push for more powers to protect its interests, the head of its pro-independence government, Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday.

Sturgeon said Scotland wants a deal that allows it access to the single market and free movement of the EU migrants that underpin its economy, its ageing population and its outlying rural communities.

Setting out the Scottish government’s detailed proposals in Edinburgh for its future relationship with the EU after June’s vote to leave, Sturgeon described the proposals as “detailed, serious and reasonable and … aimed first and foremost at the UK government”.

Sturgeon said powers over immigration were increasingly vital for the protection of Scotland’s interests, raising the possibility of a differentiated immigration system within the UK. She said she believed the UK was witnessing “a groundswell around further devolution of immigration”, noting calls by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, for greater flexibility.

In a paper entitled "Scotland's Place in Europe", the Scottish devolved government set out three options; despite being a supporter of secession, Sturgeon said her preference in the Brexit aftermath was for the whole of the UK to stay in the single market, which trades goods and services tariff-free across 28 countries.

A second option proposes a single market membership carve-out for Scotland from a UK outside the EU. The third option is independence from the rest of the UK, with Sturgeon stressing that a second independence referendum would remain on the table.

Britons voted to leave the EU by 52 to 48 percent but Scotland, one of the UK's four nations, voted by a large margin (62%) to stay.

"There has to be a way to effectively square the circle," Sturgeon told a news conference, referring to the difficulty of matching Scotland's vote with that of the UK as a whole amid the complexity of Britain's Brexit negotiations.

The document also calls for a “fundamental reconsideration of the UK’s constitutional arrangements”, with powers over agriculture, fisheries and environmental protection returning from the EU directly to Holyrood, as well as asking for additional powers not currently devolved, including employment law and health and safety legislation. It concludes: “Whatever the final terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, the effect on Scotland’s constitutional position will be profound.”

Earlier today, a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she will carefully consider proposals for Brexit put forward by the Scottish first minister.

"We are going to get this paper delivered to us today. It is right that we consider it carefully," he had told reporters.
Sturgeon has frequently said Scotland should have the option of a second independence referendum if her proposals to retain EU links are rejected.

"Our position is there shouldn't be a second referendum. There was a referendum, it was only two years ago, the result was very decisive (and) both parties agreed to abide by the result of that referendum," the spokesperson said.

Later, May told lawmakers that Britain must forge a brand new relationship with the European Union, rather than trying to choose parts of its current membership it would like to keep.

"What we need to say is 'we're currently members of the EU, we are going to leave the European Union and we need to negotiate a new relationship with the European Union,'" she said.

"It isn't (about) trying to replicate bits of membership, it's about saying what is our new relationship."