First minister Nicola Sturgeon has responded to the EU referendum result by saying that a second referendum on Scottish independence is now “on the table”.
In a live statement, Sturgeon has said she “deeply regrets” that Scotland’s vote for Remain was not echoed across these isles.
She began her speech by addressing immigrants living in Scotland, saying that “you remain welcome here. Scotland is your home and your contribution is valued.”
The vote across England and Wales was a clear vote to “reject” the EU, and a sign of divergence between Scotland “and large parts of the UK in how we see our place in the world”.
It was also “a clear expression of the disatisfaction with the political system which is felt in too many communities. Communities taken for granted by Labour for generations, and punished with austerity cuts by the Tories for a financial crisis they didn’t cause.”
They used this referendum, she said, “to make their voices heard. The Westminster establishment has some serious soul-searching to do.”
But Sturgeon also said she has a duty to respond “in particular” to Scotland’s vote, as the country “faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will.”
“I regard that as democratically unacceptable.”
She stressed that, for many, the decision to stay in the EU may have informed their vote in Scotland’s 2014 referendum: “I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to . . . secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market in particular.”
The Scottish government, she said, “must be fully and directly involved in any and all” negotiations in Westminster.
“We will also be seeking direct discussions with the EU institutions and its member states. I will also be communicating over this weekend with each EU member state to make clear that Scotland has voted to stay in the EU.”
Sturgeon cited common cause with London mayor Sadiq Khan, and promises to speak to party leaders in the Scottish parliament imminently.
On an independence referendum, Sturgeon cited the SNP manifesto from the last election, which promised the possibility of a second vote if there is a “significant and material change in circumstances” – including Scotland being taken out of the EU.
Therefore, Sturgeon suggests, the possibility of a second referendum “must be on the table. And it is on the table.”
Sturgeon also stressed the timescale within which Article 50 is expected to be triggered, stating that, if the Scottish parliament decides a second referendum is the only possible response, they must be ready to hold it “within that timescale”. To that end, they will begin preparing the necessary legislation now.
The Scottish cabinet will meet tomorrow morning to discuss next steps in more detail.