Tuesday 21 November 2017

Scotland should have another independence referendum if it faces 'cliff edge' hard Brexit - Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Picture: PA
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Picture: PA
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Scotland should have another independence referendum if it faces the "cliff edge" of a hard Brexit, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Addressing students at The Philosophical Society at Trinity College tonight, Ms Sturgeon said she believes Scotland will secure independence "well within" her lifetime. She said Scotland wants to persuade the UK government to stay within the single market.

"If Scotland is faced with the prospect of not just being taken out of the European Union against their will but being taken out of the single market, effectively taken off a hard Brexit cliff edge, with all of the implications for our economy and our society and our place in the world, that's not the prospect that we voted for in 2014," Ms Sturgeon said.

"If that's the prospect we face now then I do think that the people of Scotland will have the right to vote again and decide whether that's what it wanted. We're not there yet but ... I think it's likely and I've  always believed Scotland will become an independent country well within my life time."

Ms Sturgeon's address to The Phil was her last engagement of her first day in Dublin. Tomorrow she will address a business meeting at IBEC as well as the Seanad.

A majority of people in Scotland, and Northern Ireland, voted to stay in the EU at the June 23 referendum, while a majority in England and Wales voted to leave, setting the UK as a whole on the path to an unprecedented divorce the European Union and potentially straining relations between the UK's constituent parts.

Ms Sturgeon described the Supreme Court hearing next week as a result of the appeal by the UK government to the High Court decision that the British parliament must have a say on the triggering of Article 50 as the "most important and significant constitutional case" that has been before the UK courts in her lifetime.

"All eyes will be on the Supreme Court next week," she said.

Earlier, after a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland wants to retain access to the single market.

And she said the Scottish government is fully supportive of efforts to make sure that the issue of the border between north and south is resolved.

She said she agrees with Taoiseach Enda Kenny that it would be impossible to agree the Brexit negotiations in two years.

"I believe very strongly that given the complexities of the Article 50 process it would be sensible for the UK to very explicitly make clear that it is seeking a transitional arrangement before the UK formally exits, but that is a matter for the Prime Minister and the UK government, " she said.

"But with every day that passes the complexity of this process and the difficulties of contemplating a prices of exit and agreeing a new relationship being concluded within a two year period are becoming more and more obvious."

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