Sturgeon calls for support

Gibraltar talks kickstart FM’s appeal for EU unity

Nicola Sturgeon ITV EU debateFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in talks with Gibraltar which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union.

Fabian Picardo, the territory’s chief minister, said he was speaking to Ms Sturgeon, about various options.

The talks are aimed at building alliances with other European territories and she will tomorrow appeal to her rivals to help push the case for Scotland to retain its status in the EU.

Ms Sturgeon will argue that the “overwhelming vote of the people of Scotland to remain in the European Union” mandates the Scottish Government to hold talks on protecting Scotland’s position.

Commenting ahead of the debate, the First Minister said: “I have already made it clear that I regard it as democratically unacceptable for Scotland to face the prospect of being taken out of the European Union against the wishes of the people of Scotland, as expressed overwhelmingly in last week’s referendum. 

“I am now determined to explore every avenue to retain Scotland’s EU status, and today’s parliamentary debate is a vital part of that process.

“I am specifically asking Parliament to strengthen my hand by giving me a mandate to pursue discussions about protecting Scotland’s place in the EU with the UK Government, other devolved administrations, EU institutions and member states.

“It is now crucial that our national Parliament speaks with as strong and united a voice as possible on this issue. 

“Today’s debate is among the most important in Holyrood’s history – and I want to see it result in broad, cross-party support for our efforts.”

But former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth accused the First Minister of plotting with Gibraltar to undermine the British government’s negotiations. He said there was no question on the ballot paper about Scotland’s future and after taking part in a UK-wide vote she should respect the result.

Chancellor George Osborne has ruled himself out of the running for the Conservative Party leadership.

“I am not the person to provide the unity my party needs at this time,” he told a daily newspaper. Despite his strong advocacy of remaining in the EU he may support Boris Johnson‘s candidacy in exchange for the position of Foreign Secretary, according to the paper.

The party intends to have a new leader in place by 2 September.

A YouGov poll on Monday puts Home Secretary Theresa May – tipped by Daily Business on Saturday – ahead of Mr Johnson among both the public and Conservative party members.Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb and health Secretary Jeremy Hunt are other potential contenders.

Mr Hunt has become the first government minister to suggest that a second referendum be called.

He said that whoever succeeds David Cameron as Prime Minister negotiate with Brussels before Britain hands in its two-year notice to quit the EU, and then put any deal on migration to the British public.

“Before setting the clock ticking we need to negotiate a deal and put it to the British people, either in a referendum or through the Conservative manifesto at a fresh general election,” Mr Hunt said. 

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has called for independence for Wales following the Brexit vote.

Ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded Britain’s creditworthiness which could impact on the government’s borrowing costs.


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