Sturgeon plans Brussels trip, says "Scotland's voice will be heard"

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asked the devolved parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday to back a plan to protect Scotland's place in the European Union, saying she will travel to Brussels on Wednesday to explain her position to EU officials.

"Scotland's voted clearly for Remain and I'm determined that Scotland's voice will be heard," Sturgeon told the parliament, after more than 60 per cent of Scottish voters opted to stay in the EU in Thursday's referendum.

"The result leaves me profoundly disappointed and concerned," she said. "I am utterly determined to protect Scotland's place in the EU."

By maintaining its relations with Europe, Scotland can "become an even more attractive place to do business," Sturgeon said.

She has set up a group of legal, economic, business and diplomatic experts to advise the Scottish government on "securing Scotland's relationship with the EU."

She said Scotland's Standing Council on Europe will "consider the impact of proposed changes to the UK's relationship with the EU on Scottish interests and advise ministers throughout our negotiations on the best way to secure Scottish interests and objectives."

The Scottish National Party, which controls the parliament, has warned that it is likely to push for a new referendum on Scottish independence if "Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will." Sturgeon, who leads the SNP, earlier said that prospect was "democratically unacceptable."

Britain's ruling Conservatives and the largest opposition party, Labour, have both fallen into turmoil after their leaders lost the campaign to prevent a Brexit, or British exit from the European Union.

Prime Minister David Cameron offered his resignation on Friday. Vote Leave co-leader Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May are the favourites to replace him.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Cameron's closest ally and fellow Remain campaigner, ruled himself out of the leadership contest on Tuesday.

"I am not backing any candidate at the moment, but of course I was full-throttled in arguing for remaining in the EU and because half my party wanted to leave the EU, I don't think I can be the person who can bring the party together," Osborne told BBC Radio 4.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faces a confidence vote on Tuesday in a secret ballot by the party's 229 lawmakers.

But Corbyn has insisted he will not resign and will stand in any leadership contest, despite all but a handful of the 30 members of his cabinet members resigning in the last few days.

If, as expected, a majority votes against him, the party is expected to conduct a leadership contest with its 600,000 members and affiliates all allowed to vote.

Corbyn spoke at a rally near parliament late Monday, urging hundreds of supporters to "stay together strong and united."

"Those wanting to change Labour's leadership will have to stand in a democratic election in which I'll be a candidate," he said.

Trade union-backed Corbyn won a leadership election in September with almost 60 per cent of the 422,000 votes, beating three other candidates.

Cameron and Corbyn both shunned the national television debates on the pros and cons of a Brexit. They largely avoided discussing the key issue of migration until the final few weeks before the referendum.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:41
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