Sturgeon talks up Scotland's place in post-Brexit Europe

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By Bryan Carter
Sturgeon talks up Scotland's place in post-Brexit Europe
Copyright  Virginia Mayo - AP   -   Virginia Mayo

On her first visit to Brussels following Brexit, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted on Scotland's place in the European Union, as a sovereign independent state.

Her remarks were made during a speech at a Brussels-based think tank.

"The UK is not a unitary state, it's a voluntary union of nations. And one of those nations, Scotland, has expressed majority support time and again for remaining in the EU. I don't believe it is right that more than 5 million EU citizens should be removed from the European Union after 47 years of membership, without even the chance to have their say on the future of their country. That is why we are taking in Scotland and in the Scottish government the steps required to ensure that a referendum can be held, that is legal and legitimate, so that the result can be accepted and embraced both at home and internationally."

Independence is not a matter of if, but of when, Sturgeon insisted. In the meantime, she says her government will continue to work closely with London on all matters. But on the trade relationship with the EU, Sturgeon said Scotland will not accept any lowering of standards.

"We largely support the idea of a level playing field which removes the possibility of the UK adopting lower standards than the EU. That helps to protect our environmental standards, and working conditions and it also makes it easier for Scottish businesses to export to the EU. We will continually make the case for that as these negotiations proceed."

Sturgeon's speech comes on the heels of a meeting with EU commission vice-president Margarethe Vestager, which reportedly focused on digital economy and climate.

Two areas where the Scottish government wants to work closely with Brussels and the rest of the international community, as it prepares to host this year's UN Climate change conference (COP 26) at the end of the year.