Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the UK’s collision course with the European Union could put Scottish jobs at risk.
In a speech in Dublin for the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Ms Sturgeon said that Scotland benefits substantially from being part of the EU, and if it was an independent member state would be much better placed to protect the national interest.
Ms Sturgeon warned that recent announcements by the Prime Minister and the possibility of an in/out referendum on UK membership created damaging uncertainty for Scotland.
The Deputy First Minister told the audience of business people that being in the EU made Scotland attractive for inward investment – which has created and safeguarded around 64,000 jobs in Scotland in the last decade.
The Deputy First Minister said:
“We want to be in Europe because it is overwhelmingly in our economic interests.
“And we want to be independent in Europe, because that is the status that best allows us to protect, assert and advance our national interests.
“We are in no doubt that the single EU market continues to be, as it has been in the past, a driver of economic recovery, growth and jobs going forward.
“In recent days it has become clear that the UK Government could be on a collision course with the EU over the terms of her membership, and it is no longer fanciful to consider as real the possibility that the UK is heading out of the EU.
“Let me state emphatically that this is not a journey that the Scottish Government wishes Scotland to be a part of, nor one that I believe would be supported across the Scottish business community or wider civic society.
“But it is a position that brings with it considerable uncertainty and one that could damage Scotland’s EU interests and influence, and deter foreign investors from investing in our economy. A misguided policy that threatens tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland.
“One of the questions I am sure that Scotland will be asking over these next two years is whether such damage – as a result of a policy direction we haven’t chosen – is a price worth paying for leaving these decisions in the hands of Westminster.
“The Scottish Government wants an independent Scotland to be a constructive member of the EU.
“A country that both wants to play its part in Europe and, given the vast resources that we bring to the table, a country that will be welcomed as a continuing member of Europe by our fellow member states.”
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