Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says that an “independent Scotland” might not rejoin the European Union after the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc.
Speaking to BBC on Sunday, Sturgeon once again expressed her resolve to hold an independence referendum after Brexit, arguing that the UK was leaving the EU against the will of Scottish people.
While 52 percent of English people voted in favor of Brexit in last June’s EU referendum, Scots opted against it by 62 percent.
“My position is I want Scotland to be in the EU. Now we have to set out if we’re in an independence referendum, and we’re not in that right now, the process for regaining or retaining, depending where we are in the Brexit process, EU membership,” she told BBC on Sunday.
“Now it may be that we have a phased approach to that by necessity,” she added.
Sturgeon’s calls for an independence vote have been firmly rejected by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who argues Scots have already taken a shot at secession and failed.
Scotland held its first referendum in 2014, when over 55 percent of the people voted against independence.
May has also shut down requests by Scotland to have a “key role” in EU negotiations to prevent a deal that would cut off their membership in the EU’s Free Trade Association (EFTA). May has made it clear that access to the free trade zone would be definitely lost after Brexit.
Asked whether she would seek to rejoin EFTA, Sturgeon did not rule out the possibility but did not give a clear answer either.
“Well, it may be by necessity but we don’t want that. We have to set that out at the time because there are still some uncertainties, many uncertainties, around the Brexit process,” she replied.
The comments prompted a strong response from Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative leader, who said Sturgeon was playing political games with the electorate.
“And her flirtation with EFTA would leave us with all the obligations of the EU but no voice in EU decision-making,” he added.