The leaders of France and Spain have slammed Scotland's hopes of negotiating directly with the EU following last week's Brexit vote

Mark Sands
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Nicola Sturgeon met with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker earlier today (Source: Getty)

Scotland's efforts to negotiate its own relationship with the EU have hit a setback after the leaders of France and Spain stressed that Europe should deal solely with the UK.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has been in Brussels today, meeting European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament president Martin Schulz, and stressing Scotland's desire to remain within the EU.

Despite the talks, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy told a press conference in Brussels that he wanted to be "very clear Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union".

"Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of United Kingdom.”

The comments were echoed by French president Francois Hollande, who said: "The negotiations will be conducted with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom.”

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Nonetheless, Sturgeon said she was “heartened” by the response of EU leaders and had been offered “a sympathetic response”.

The Scottish government is already in talks with City lobbyists over the willingness of financial services firms to relocate if it can gain access to the single market.

And today Sturgeon maintained that while her discussions with European officials were in very early stages, she had found many “open doors”.

“If there is a way for Scotland to stay I am determined to find that way,” she said.

“I've been heartened today that I have found a willingness to listen.”

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