Scottish politicians to visit Brussels in effort to explore options for Scottish links to EU

James Nickerson
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Scotland Prepares For The Independence Vote
McAlpine said she wants to figure out EU views on Scotland's situation (Source: Getty)

Scottish politicians are to begin conversations in Brussels to explore options for how the nation can maintain its place in the EU after the Brexit vote.

A cross-party group of MSPs will today meet diplomats from the European Free Trade Association, as well as Ireland and other nations, in Brussels.

The trip has been descried by Joan McAlpine, convener of the European and external relations committee, as a way to figure out what options are available to keep Scotland in the EU after the UK voted to leave.

Read more: May says Scotland should be "fully engaged" in Brexit talks

McAlpline also said she wanted to discover other countries' views on the issues.

She said: "62 per cent of voters in Scotland voted to ‘remain’ in the EU. For that reason alone, it is important to understand what the possible options are to safeguard Scotland’s place in Europe.

“Our meetings in Brussels will seek to open channels with key European decision makers to discuss how Scotland’s interests can be represented as discussions go forward.

“Our session later this month provides us with an opportunity to hear from key sectors, including higher education, finance and industry. We will raise the questions and concerns of those sectors in our meetings with the Scottish and UK governments.”

Read more: The leaders of France and Spain have slammed Scotland's hopes of negotiating directly with the EU

Given the fact Holyrood is in recess, the trip signifies the importance of the matter to MSPs. Barring Conservative abstainers, the politicians backed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's resolve to secure Scotland's relationship with the EU and its place in the Single Market.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote Sturgeon flew out to Brussels to meet with high-ranking officials, all of whom supported her ambition of keeping Scotland in the EU. However, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said they would only negotiate with the UK as a whole.

Last week Theresa May visited Scotland in her first diplomatic trip, stating she would not trigger Article 50 until a UK wide approach was agreed.

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