First Minister on EU Referendum result

‘Yesterday, Scotland – like London and Northern Ireland – voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

‘We voted to protect our place in the world’s biggest single market – and the jobs and investment that depend on it.

‘We voted to safeguard our freedom to travel, live, work and study in other European countries.

‘And we voted to renew our reputation as an outward looking, open and inclusive country.

It is significant – in my view – that we did so after a campaign that was positive about the EU and about the benefits of migration.

‘Indeed, I want to take the opportunity this morning to speak directly to citizens of other EU countries living here in Scotland – you remain welcome here, Scotland is your home and your contribution is valued.

‘Unfortunately, of course, yesterday’s result in Scotland was not echoed across the whole of the UK.

;The UK wide vote to leave the EU is one that I deeply regret.

It remains my passionate belief that it is better for all parts of the UK to be members of the European Union.

‘But the vote across England and Wales was a rejection of the EU.’

‘And it was a sign of divergence between Scotland and large parts of the rest of the UK in how we see our place in the world.

‘But this vote wasn’t just about the EU – it was also a clear expression of the disaffection with the political system that 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, used this referendum to make their voices heard.

‘The Westminster establishment has some serious soul searching to do – and I hope very much that it now does it.

‘But as First Minister of Scotland I have a duty to respond – not just to the outcome across the UK – but also and in particular to the democratic decision taken by the people of Scotland.

‘As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will.

‘I regard that as democratically unacceptable.

And of course we face that prospect less than two years after being told that it was our own referendum on independence that would end our membership of the European Union and that only a rejection of independence could protect it.

Indeed for many people the supposed guarantee of remaining in the EU was a driver in their decision to vote to stay within the UK.

So there is no doubt that yesterday’s result represents a significant and a material change of the circumstances in which Scotland voted against independence in 2014.

‘My job now is to act responsibly and in the interests of all of Scotland and that is what I intend to do.

‘The Cabinet will meet tomorrow morning to discuss our next steps in more detail – but I want to set out now some immediate priorities.

Firstly, we have an urgent job to do to provide as much reassurance and certainty as we can.

‘I spoke a short while ago to the Governor of the Bank of England to discuss his plans to reassure the markets and restore financial stability.

‘Starting this afternoon Ministers will be engaged in discussions with key stakeholders – particularly in the business community – to emphasise that as of now we are still firmly in the EU. Trade and business should continue as normal and we are determined that Scotland will continue now and in the future to be an attractive and a stable place to do business. Our resilience committee will meet later this afternoon to oversee these immediate actions.

‘Secondly, I want to make it absolutely clear that I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted – in other words, to secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market in particular.

‘To that end, I have made clear to the Prime Minister this morning that the Scottish Government must be fully and directly involved in any and all decisions about the next steps that the UK government intends to take.

‘We will also be seeking direct discussions with the EU institutions and its member states, including the earliest possible meeting with the President of the European Commission.

‘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 – and that I intend to discuss all options for doing so.

‘I should say that I have also spoken this morning with Mayor Sadiq Khan and he is clear that he shares this objective for London – so there is clear common cause between us.

‘The discussions that take place over the coming days and weeks will, of course, be led by government but I will seek the support and ensure the involvement of the Scottish Parliament at every step of the way.

‘I intend to speak to all party leaders later today and make a full statement to the Chamber on Tuesday.

‘I will also make a further statement following tomorrow’s meeting of the Scottish Cabinet.

‘Lastly, let me address the issue of a second independence referendum.

‘The manifesto that the SNP was elected on last month said this:

‘The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum…if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out the EU against our will.

‘Scotland does now face that prospect – it is a significant and material change in circumstances – and it is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table. And it is on the table.9 Clearly, though, there are a lot of discussions to be had before final decisions are taken.

‘It would not be right to rush to judgment ahead of discussions on how Scotland’s result will be responded to by the EU.

‘However, when the Article 50 process is triggered in three months’ time, the UK will be on a two year path to the EU exit door.

‘If Parliament judges that a second referendum is the best or only way to protect our place in Europe, it must have the option to hold one within that timescale.’

‘That means we must act now to protect that position. I can therefore confirm today that in order to protect that position we will begin to prepare the legislation that would be required to enable a new independence referendum to take place if and when Parliament so decides.

‘To conclude, this is not a situation that I wanted Scotland or the UK to be in today.

‘Now my responsibility in a climate of uncertainty is to seek to lead us forward with purpose. I know that there is a lot of thinking and talking to be done in the period that lies ahead and before final decisions are taken. The issues that we face are complex.

‘There are many people who voted against independence in 2014 who are today reassessing their decision. Indeed a very large number of them have contacted me already.

‘However I know that they will not want me to simply assume their support or to hear me talk about the challenges we face as if they are straightforward. They will want me to be straight and honest with them.

‘Now is the time for me as First Minister to do everything I can to bring people together in common cause and to seek to lead our country forward as one.

‘The need to act decisively must be tempered with the need to build consensus – and it will be. That is my duty as First Minister.

‘After a campaign that has been characterised in the rest of the UK by fear and hate, my priority in the days, weeks and months ahead will be to act at all times in the best interests of Scotland – and in a way that unites, not divides us.

‘And let me also make it clear about this: that whatever happens as a result of this outcome, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will always be Scotland’s closest neighbours and our best friends. Nothing will ever change that.

‘But I want to leave no-one in any doubt about this.

‘I am proud of Scotland and how we voted yesterday. We proved that we are a modern, outward looking, open and inclusive country.

‘And we said clearly that we do not want to leave the European Union.

‘I am determined that we will do what it takes to make sure that these aspirations are realised.

‘In closing, let me just say just a word or two about the Prime Minister.

‘David Cameron and I have very many political disagreements – not least over the conduct of this referendum.

‘But – as I am learning every single day – leadership is not easy. David has been the Prime Minister of the UK for six years. It is a tough job and, whatever our disagreements, he deserves our thanks for his service. I wish him and his family well for the future.’

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Related Articles & Comments

  • 38% of people in Scotland voted to leave. We have no immigration issues in Scotland that I’ve ever heard of. Not on single main political party in Scotland campaigned for exit, and the budget for Brexit in Scotland must have been virtually nil.

    The political establishment in Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, did their absolute utmost to discredit the Leave side, made no positive case for the EU (even the SNP), all deciding on a Project Fear approach.

    And yet 38% of the electorate voted to leave. Over 1 million Scots still voted to leave. That’s quite incredible. I couldn’t name you a single Scottish MP, MSP or MEP bar David Coburn that wanted to leave and I doubt many people can.

    Just think about that – a non-existant political campaign managed to get 38% of the vote. That must go down in history surely?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    JB June 25, 2016 1:02 pm Reply
    • You raise a good point JB, as Scotland doesn’t have a problem with immigration why did 25.5% of Scots vote for an anti-immigration led campaign?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      John M June 25, 2016 1:51 pm Reply
      • There didn’t vote for a campaign John. They voted to leave the EU.

        It really suits the hysterical masses (and I’m not accusing you of that btw) to tar everyone with one brush. But as I say – there was no Scottish campaign, so maybe we need to get beyond the hysteria and genuinely work out why quiet so many Scots voted to leave.

        There’s a really common theme I’ve seen on social media. It goes like this ‘What were you thinking Britain, why did you do this?’ – and then the same person provides an answer to their own question along the lines of ‘It was the old, senile selfish people and uneducated masses that voted for this’.

        A slight parody but pretty much what I see. Until anyone who voted Remain can start actually listeneing and trying to understand, they will get no-where. The Remain camp failed completely to run a positive campaign and failed to address people’s real concerns about the EU, whether that was on it’s overall aims, the lack of democracy, the cost, the lack of accountability or immigration.

        The Remain camp failed entirely to give an inspiring case for the EU – they could only tell us how awful life would be. Much like Better Together mind you.

        They could have made clear, logical well constructed and simple arguments, but instead, opted for hysteria and smears. And in doing so , didn’t even scratch the surface of people’s concerns.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

        JB June 25, 2016 2:04 pm Reply
        • Are you suggesting no one in Scotland was influenced by the Leave’s anti-immigration campaign? Are you suggesting no one in Scotland was influenced by the promise of an extra £350 million being spent on the NHS every week? Are you suggesting no one in Scotland felt sympathy for their friends in England who were unable to get a Doctor’s appointment because of all the immigrants?

          Completely agree that until we have a more accurate breakdown of voting figures, we can’t be pointing fingers or blaming any particular group of the electorate. And yes I have seen similar comments and they don’t help. In saying that though, early figures indicate 80% of the under 25 year olds voted remain. The very people who will ‘benefit’ from this decision.

          The Remain campaign did offer the benefits of staying in the EU, in the same way as you and I gave the benefits of Scotland staying in the UK during the indyref. Then as now people who had already made their mind up didn’t hear it, but it was said.

          One of the most obvious failures of the Remain campaign has to sit with the Labour party, especially Jeremy Cobyrn. A mistake which will hopefully be rectified over the next few weeks.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

          John M June 25, 2016 2:42 pm Reply
          • John, likewise are you suggesting that no-one voted for leave the EU because it’s completely undemocratic? Are you telling me know-one voted to leave the EU after the embarassment of our ‘renegotiation’ where Cameron has to go out begging to the other nations for what were really limited changes that should be in our power to change in the first place (wiping out Prof Dougan’s lecture on sovereignty)? Are you telling me that people didn’t vote because of the disgraceful track record of the EU in term of growth, employment and a whole host of other areas across the whole of the EU? Are you telling me people were not appalled at the austerity forced on Greece by the EU which makes the Tories in Britain look like father Christmas?

            John – there are many many reasons why people voted to leave but as I say – no-one was listening – least of all the EU that will never learn it’s lesson – and hell mend them all.

            A friend of mine was recalling the decision of whether to join the euro and how many predicted that Britain would be forever isolated and the economy would tank. How did that end up for them? That did prompt me to do some light reading – this one is interesting. Look at the disadvantages. Bar the last, they all came true.

            And as for your comment about people voting – take almost any Leave or Remain voter that doesn’t have an interest like we do and within about 1minute, you’ll realise they know nothing about the EU or politics beyond headlines. I’d say that goes for about 90% of the population. That is the biggest travesty of all – on both sides.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

            JB June 25, 2016 9:25 pm
          • You’ve answered your own questions with your last paragraph Jamie.

            Of course there was a minority of people, like yourself, who analysed where we were and felt a brexit was the best option but you are in a minority.

            People voted brexit because they were bought in by the lies and xenophobia promoted by the leave campaign. Absolutely nothing to do with the EU.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

            John M June 25, 2016 9:41 pm
          • Last sentence should read “The majority of people…”

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

            John M June 25, 2016 9:45 pm
        • JB, were people really voting on the EU!?

          “What is the EU?” is the second top UK question on the EU since the #EURefResults were officially announced” Google Trends

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          John M June 25, 2016 5:34 pm Reply
          • Spot on,John.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

            A.Salmon June 25, 2016 10:15 pm

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