Nicola Sturgeon told the EU on Monday that Scotland wants a close relationship — but Brussels wasn’t quite so keen on Scots projecting their hopes onto the EU.
At least, not yet.
Making her first post-Brexit trip to Brussels, Scotland’s first minister stressed she would push the U.K. government to pursue the closest ties with the EU in talks on trade and other issues.
But Sturgeon said she did not harbor much hope that Boris Johnson’s Conservative administration would take that route. Sturgeon, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), argued Scotland’s interests would be better served by leaving the U.K. and going back into the EU fold.
“I will be trying to influence the U.K. side of the negotiations, as far as I possibly can, to keep the relationship as close as possible,” Sturgeon told POLITICO after holding talks with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator with Britain.
“I believe that the case for us joining the EU will be an overwhelming one” — Nicola Sturgeon
“But I do that now with a very firm sense of realism that the path that the U.K. is taking Scotland on, in terms of its relationship with Europe, is not one that is in our medium- and long-term interests,” Sturgeon added.
Later, in a speech at the European Policy Centre think tank, she stressed the Scottish government’s commitment to the EU, noting that the country had voted strongly in favor of remaining in the bloc (even as the U.K. as a whole voted to leave).