Monday, 22 May, 2017

Scotland needs choice on independence at end of Brexit: Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon and Stephen Gethins with the Proctor Professor Lorna Milne Nicola Sturgeon and Stephen Gethins with the Proctor Professor Lorna Milne
Dexter Carr | 19 May, 2017, 23:30

The Scottish Government put forward proposals at the end of a year ago in an attempt to create a bespoke Brexit deal for Scotland - where the vote to remain was 62% - but Ms Sturgeon said they were "dismissed out of hand by the Prime Minister".

She said: "The health service in Scotland, in common with many other countries, has got significant challenges, but we are now seeing record funding in our health service, record numbers of people working in our health service".

However, Ms Sturgeon accepted that it was "possible, not necessarily desirable" that for "a period" an independent Scotland would be in the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and European Economic Area (EEA).

Mrs. Sturgon also said she did not want Scotland to adopt the euro when it joined the EU.

After a whistlestop tour of TV stations in London on Sunday where she appeared with Andrew Marr and Robert Peston, she returns to Scotland on Monday.

"It may be that we have a phased approach to that by necessity...even if we didn't want that".

"Scotland has come a long way over the last ten years - but the next few years will be hugely important in determining the kind of country we become", she added, urging Scots to vote for the SNP at next month's general election.

She explained: "Because we as the Scottish government, the SNP, are not in charge of the Brexit process right now we don't know exactly what that is going to be like, how that is going to unfold".

Nicola Sturgeon makes a speech marking 10 years of the SNP in government at Port Edgar, South Queensferry.

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It's about how much money we have to spend on schools and hospitals, what money wages and pensions will be paid in, and will determine how families pay the bills.

But SNP leader Ms Sturgeon tried to lay claim to the leftie manifesto which she said was inspired by policies enacted north of the border.

Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative deputy leader, said Ms Sturgeon's position on Europe had "descended into complete chaos".

In her reference to Scotland "regaining" membership, Sturgeon confirmed previous hints she accepts she may have to retreat from her preferred timescale of staging a referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, before Brexit takes place. "That's why we are opposed to a divisive second independence referendum".

Scotland held its first referendum in 2014, when over 55 percent of the people voted against independence.

During the meeting with staff and students the First Minister also said that scrapping the Erasmus scheme would be "bonkers".

He added: "The fact is, EFTA membership would impose all the obligations of European Union membership but no voice in decision making". At the same time, there had been a worsening performance gap between the least and most well-off pupils, after 10 years of Scottish National party government.

That is a "more immediate priority" than indyref2, Ms Sturgeon said. She added that literacy rates improved among pupils in their third year.

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