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New minister for EU talks

Russell to head Holyrood’s Brexit mission

Mike RussellFormer Scottish education minister Mike Russell has been handed the role of ensuring Scotland’s interests are represented in the Brexit negotiations between Westminster and the EU.

Mr Russell’s formal title will be Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe. The post is subject to parliamentary approval.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We already have an agreement with the new Prime Minister that the Scottish Government should be fully involved in the development of the UK Government’s position ahead of Article 50 being triggered and beyond, and that options to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe will form part of these discussions.

“This appointment – which is subject to the approval of parliament when it returns after recess – is an indication of the importance I am placing on these negotiations, and our part in them.

“By putting a dedicated and experienced Minister at their centre, it will ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard loudly and clearly. I am confident that Michael Russell will make strong and constructive representation to the UK Government throughout this process.

“In the period ahead of Article 50 being triggered, influencing the UK position will be crucial to our efforts to protect Scotland’s interests and our relationship with Europe, especially the single market.

“However, it is also vital that we continue to engage with the EU institutions and member states – this work will continue to be led by Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and Minister for Europe Alasdair Allan.

“Derek Mackay will continue to have overall responsibility for the constitution, including overseeing preparations for a new independence referendum bill should that prove to be the best or only way to protect Scotland’s interests.”

Mr Russell was Environment Minister from 2007 until 2009 and then served as Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution before becoming Secretary for Education until 2014.

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