Scottish results an ‘emphatic rejection’ of Brexit, says Sturgeon

SNP takes three of six EU seats, as leader says Brexit could hasten independence

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Farmleigh House during her visit to Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Farmleigh House during her visit to Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called the results of the European elections in Scotland an “emphatic rejection of Brexit” after talks in Dublin with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Ms Sturgeon said she was “pretty jubilant” about the results of the European elections in Scotland, where her party the SNP took three of the six seats, an improvement of one, and 20 per cent ahead of its nearest rivals.

She met Mr Varadkar for talks that covered Brexit and other issues at Farmleigh today during a one-day visit to Dublin.

She said the two leaders also discussed health policy, the citizens’ assembly and the economic links between the two countries.

“But inevitably discussions were dominated by Brexit,” Ms Sturgeon told The Irish Times.

“The chances of a no-deal Brexit have increased but the chances of no Brexit have also increased,” she said. “And it’s hard to predict which one of those will be the outcome. But there’s every reason to believe the good outcome will prevail over the bad outcome.”

Does she think the UK will leave?

“I don’t know . . . but what I would say is I’m more hopeful than I’ve been up until now that there is a path to remaining through a second EU referendum,” she said. “I think there’s everything to play for.”

Brexit a ‘disaster’

Is Brexit an opportunity to push the SNP’s independence agenda?

“I don’t see Brexit as an opportunity because I think it’s a disaster for Scotland. I think Scotland will become independent even if Brexit never happens. It may become independent a bit more quickly now because of Brexit, and I think what Brexit has exposed in the UK – the democratic deficit, the way Scotland’s interests have been so easily disregarded – has been eye-opening to a lot of people in Scotland. So I do think that the Brexit experience makes Scottish independence even more likely, and probably more likely to happen more quickly,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

She will introduce legislation in the Scottish Parliament this week to put the rules in place for a referendum to take place, she said. It is likely to take place next year. She is convinced it will pass.

“In no small measure what we’ve witnessed in the past three years of Ireland’s experience of being influential and being supported by the European Union, while Scotland has been treated rather contemptuously by Westminster – I think that starts to shape people’s opinion and demonstrates to people the benefits of being, yes, a small country, but an independent country within the European Union,” she said.