First minister Nicola Sturgeon to travel to Brussels to defend Scotland's place in the EU

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would travel to Brussels on Wednesday for talks to defend Scotland's place in the EU following a vote by Britain to leave the bloc.

AFP June 28, 2016 19:58:38 IST
First minister Nicola Sturgeon to travel to Brussels to defend Scotland's place in the EU

Britain: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would travel to Brussels on Wednesday for talks to defend Scotland's place in the EU following a vote by Britain to leave the bloc.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon to travel to Brussels to defend Scotlands place in the EU

File image of Nicola Sturgeon. Reuters.

"Tomorrow I will make an initial visit to Brussels to set out Scotland's position and interests" with European Parliament leaders, Sturgeon told an emergency session of Scotland's parliament on Tuesday.

"Through all of this I am determined, utterly determined to preserve Scotland's relationship and place within the EU," said Sturgeon, head of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP).

She said she was asking the regional parliament to give her a formal mandate to conduct direct talks with the European Union institutions in Brussels.

Sturgeon also said that she was drawing up legislation for a new independence referendum to ensure it could be held within the timeframe of Britain's expected negotiations on departing from the European Union.

"We will prepare the legislation now," she said.

But she emphasised that Scotland was examining different options and was in "uncharted territory".

Scotland voted against independence in a 2014 referendum but Sturgeon on Tuesday said there had been "a very real and material change to Scotland's circumstances" since then.

As she spoke, hundreds of pro-EU campaigners rallied outside the parliament building.

"We want to give a message to Brussels that we want to stay," said Joana Barrett, a 33-year-old children's charity worker.

Richard Taylor, 48, a computer technician, said: "I feel very strongly about the issue of Scotland staying in the EU."

On Scotland's possible independence, he said the "chances have increased".

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