Scotland should remain in EU’s single market after Brexit: Sturgeon
London, Dec 20 (IANS) Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister in the Scottish government, unveiled proposals on Tuesday for Scotland’s future relationship with Europe after Britain leaves the European Union (EU).
Xinhua news agency quoted the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party as saying that it should be possible for Scotland to remain as a member of the EU’s single market trading bloc even if the rest of Britain left.
Sturgeon described her proposals for protecting Scotland’s place in Europe, outlined in her report “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, as “a serious and genuine attempt to unify the country around a clear plan”.
The report proposes that all of Britain should remain in the European single market and the customs union. But it also outlines how Scotland could remain in the single market without the rest of Britain. It also calls for a substantial transfer of new powers to Holyrood after Britain leaves the EU.
Although Britain voted by a 52-48 margin in June to quit the EU, over 60 per cent of the Scottish population backed remaining.
Brussels has insisted that membership of the single-market and access to almost half a billion Europeans, goes hand-in-hand with its policy of free movement of people between member states.
One of Britain’s aims is to broker a deal with Brussels that allows control of Britain’s borders to limit immigration.
Sturgeon unveiled the document at her official Bute House residence in Edinburgh, saying that Brexit was a problem that was not of Scotland’s making.
Sturgeon maintained her stand that the referendum result had been a vote on leaving the EU, rather than a vote to leave the European single market.
On that basis, Sturgeon has said it will be democratically justifiable for the whole of Britain to remain in the single market. But if that is not going to happen, she says Scotland could remain in the trading bloc.
A spokesman at 10 Downing Street said the British government welcomed Tuesday’s paper and would “look closely” at it. British Prime Minister Theresa May has always insisted that all of Britain will leave the EU following the national referendum. She plans to trigger the exit process by the end of March 2017.
The Downing Street spokesman said: “The (British) government is committed to getting a deal on exiting the EU that works for all parts of the UK, which clearly includes Scotland, and works for the UK as a whole. The best way for that to be achieved is for the government and devolved administrations to work together.”