Sturgeon admits independent Scotland would be forced to seek "phased" return to Europe

 
Mark Sands
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The UK will head to the polls on 8 June. (Source: Getty)

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has admitted an independent Scotland could be reduced to a Norway-style European status.

With the Scottish National Party still committed to seeking a second independence vote for Scotland, Sturgeon has said the party would seek a “phased” approach to European Union membership.

Speaking to the BBC, she said it was “possible, not necessarily desirable” that an independent Scotland would be able to hold only membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) or the European Free Trade Association (Efta).

Read More: Sturgeon blasted over "tin pot" approach as Holyrood debates referendum

“Because we, as the Scottish government, the SNP, are not in charge of the Brexit process right now, we don’t know exactly what that is going to be like, how that is going to unfold,” Sturgeon said.

“There may be a prospect of a phased return for Scotland to the EU where we would be in Efta, the EEA, on an interim basis.”

The SNP leader also said the starting point for an independent Scotland’s currency would be the Pound, rather than the Euro.

“There is no rule that forces any member of the European Union to join the Euro,” Sturgeon said.

The SNP held 54 of Scotland’s constituencies at the end of the last parliament, but Sturgeon is calling for Scots to strengthen her position.

In an echo of Prime Minister Theresa May’s own campaign, Sturgeon is claiming that every SNP vote will boost her ability to demand a role in Brexit negotiations.

Read More: May accuses EU of trying to interfere in the election

It comes as Scottish Tories leader Ruth Davidson last night became the first Conservative politician to deliver a lecture to the Orwell Foundation at University College London.

Davidson used the occasion to hit out at the politics of nationalism over patriotism.

She accused the SNP of cowing political opponents by painting their views as “illegitimate and phony”.

“This technique has, for a long time, been effective. If people feel bullied and hectored into supporting the SNP, I don’t blame them,” Davidson said.

She also bemoaned nationalist claims she should choose between Conservative and Scottish identities.

“The implication hangs in the air: those who are not orthodox, or do not follow the right way are foreign, we are alien, we are other,” she said.

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