First Minister says Scotland will engage with Europe.
Talks will take place with EU institutions and member states to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister chaired a meeting of the Cabinet to discuss the Scottish Government’s next steps following the EU Referendum result.
In addition, regular contact will continue with the EU and, as was planned, Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, will be attending the AGRIFISH Council in Luxembourg on Monday and will meet EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan where he will raise the concerns of farming community in Scotland. He will meet with other EU Ministers to demonstrate that the EU remains a priority for Scotland
Following the meeting, the First Minister said:
“We have had a very full discussion about the result of the EU referendum, its implications for Scotland and the steps we need to take in the days, weeks and months that lie ahead to protect Scotland’s interests.
“Cabinet expressed its pride in the vote in Scotland, the emphatic vote in Scotland, to remain in the European Union. The Cabinet also shared the deep disappointment at the UK-wide result that is clearly felt by a majority of people across this country, and we are determined to act decisively but in a way that builds unity across Scotland about the way forward.
“As I said yesterday a second independence referendum is clearly an option which requires to be on the table, and it is very much on the table. To ensure that option is a deliverable one in the required timetable steps will be taken now to ensure that the necessary legislation is in place and Cabinet this morning formally agreed that work.
“However most of our discussions this morning centred on what we can do in the here and now and in the negotiations that lie ahead, to protect Scotland’s relationship with the European Union and our place in the Single Market. Cabinet agreed that we will seek to enter into immediate discussions with the EU institutions and the other EU member states to explore all possible options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.
“In doing so, we are determined to draw on as much support and advice from across Scotland as possible and I confirm today that over the next few days I will establish an advisory panel comprising a range of experts who can advise me and the Scottish Government on a number of important matters - legal, financial and diplomatic. It will also seek to encompass voices from across the political spectrum in Scotland and indeed different views on Scotland’s constitutional future. I will say more early next week about the membership of this expert advisory panel.
“Lastly, Cabinet discussed this morning the very important work that we need to do to reassure people across Scotland who are concerned about the implications of this result. An intensive programme of engagement is already underway with stakeholders, especially our business community, to emphasise that Scotland is and Scotland will continue to be an attractive and a stable place to do business.
“One particular group that we are anxious to reassure is the community of EU citizens living here in Scotland. I said yesterday that people from other EU countries that have chosen, done us the honour of choosing to make Scotland their home are welcome here and I repeat that again today. I want to make sure that that is a message we get across strongly in the weeks and months ahead. To that end, I will be inviting the consul generals of all EU member states to a summit here in Bute house over the next two weeks to discuss how we engage with their communities here and make clear how highly we value the contribution they make to Scotland’s economy, to our society and to our culture.
“The final point I want to make this morning is this one. The Scottish Government will be working hard to protect Scotland interests in the period ahead and in the wake of the referendum result. But as we do this we will not be taking our eye off the ball of the day to day business of government. As Westminster is engulfed in political turmoil and as a vacuum of leadership develops, I want to make clear that Scotland is led by a stable and effective government. We are focussed on making sure that Scotland’s interests are protected but we are also determined to continue our work to further improve our schools, our hospitals and our economy.
“As First Minister I am focused entirely on governing this country in the interests of all the people of Scotland, that is my overarching priority.”