Nicola Sturgeon seizes on Brexit deal to make fresh demands for second independence referendum and calls the replacement of Erasmus with new scheme ‘cultural vandalism’
- The Scottish first minister spoke out on Twitter on Thursday afternoon
- She said that ‘no deal would ever make up what Brexit takes away from us’
- Added it was time for Scotland to become an independent, ‘European’ nation
Nicola Sturgeon yesterday used news of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal to make fresh demands for a second independence referendum.
The Scottish first minister spoke out on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, shortly before a summary of the deal was published on the Government website at 4.30pm.
Mr Johnson was then given a boost by the tentative welcome from both Eurosceptics Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who called for his Labour MPs to back the deal when legislation underpinning it goes through Parliament next week.
But Ms Sturgeon tore into the deal and also branded news that the Erasmus student exchange programme will be replaced in the UK as ‘cultural vandalism’.
In a series of tweets, she said that ‘no deal would ever make up what Brexit takes away from us’ before adding that it was time for Scotland to become an independent, ‘European’ nation.
And in a further statement released yesterday, Ms Sturgeon also said that while ‘a deal is better than no deal’, it was a ‘far harder Brexit than could have been imagined when the EU referendum took place’.
Nicola Sturgeon yesterday said Brexit was ‘happening against Scotland’s will’ as she savaged Boris Johnson’s deal secured with the European Union
Ms Sturgeon began her initial tweet with a reference to people in Scotland voting to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.
Scotland voted 62 per cent to 38 per cent in favour of Remain in the historic poll.
‘Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will,’ Ms Sturgeon said.
She then added: ‘It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation.’
Ms Sturgeon is a staunch opponent of Brexit had previously made clear that if Scotland were to vote for independence in any future referendum she would try to take the country back into the EU.
The Scottish National Party leader has repeatedly locked horns with Mr Johnson on both Brexit and Scottish independence.
The Scottish first minister spoke out on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, shortly before a summary of Mr Johnson’s deal was published on the Government website at 4.30pm
She wants wants there to be a second independence referendum soon after the Holyrood elections in May next year but Mr Johnson has so far refused to give permission for a re-run of the 2014 vote.
Ms Sturgeon is a vocal opponent of Brexit and she has made clear that if Scotland votes for independence in the coming years she would seek to immediately take the country back into the EU.
The SNP leader has repeatedly clashed with Mr Johnson on both Brexit and Scottish independence in recent years.
Last month, Mr Johnson was heavily criticised when he told MPs during a Zoom meeting that devolution had been a ‘disaster’ and was Tony Blair’s biggest mistake.
However, recent opinion polls have suggested a majority of Scottish people now support the country becoming independent.
Ms Sturgeon wants a second referendum on splitting up the UK to take place after Holyrood elections next May but Mr Johnson is refusing to grant permission for a re-run of the 2014 poll.
And following the news that the Erasmus programme will be ending, Ms Sturgeon was equally scathing.
She wrote: ‘There will be lots of focus – rightly – on the economic costs of Brexit.
‘But ending UK participation in Erasmus – an initiative that has expanded opportunities and horizons for so many young people – is cultural vandalism by the UK government.
In a series of tweets, she said that ‘no deal would ever make up what Brexit takes away from us’ before adding that it was time for Scotland to become an independent, ‘European’ nation. She also branded news that Mr Johnson is ending the UK’s participation in the Erasmus student exchange programme as ‘cultural vandalism’
The Erasmus programme, which the UK joined in 1987, allows students to study and work across Europe.
Mr Johnson said the UK had made a ‘tough decision to pull out of the programme for financial reasons.
It will be replaced in the UK by a worldwide scheme named after code breaker Alan Turing.
He said: ‘We are doing a UK scheme for students to go around the world, it will be called the Turing scheme.
‘Students will have the opportunity not just to go to European universities, but the best universities in the world.’
Ms Sturgeon also criticised news that seed potatoes, a key Scottish export to the EU, will be banned under the new trade deal.
At a press conference last night, the PM hailed a ‘jumbo Canada-style’ free trade agreement that averts a chaotic split when the transition period ends on January 1
She said: ‘This is a disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers…and like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against our will.
Ms Sturgeon said in an earlier statement released yesterday that it ‘beggars belief’ that Scotland has been ‘forced out’ of the EU single market and customs union during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: ‘A deal is better than no deal.
‘But, just because, at the eleventh hour, the UK Government has decided to abandon the idea of a no-deal outcome, it should not distract from the fact that they have chosen a hard Brexit, stripping away so many of the benefits of EU membership.
‘And while we do not yet have full details on the nature of the deal, it appears major promises made by the UK Government on fisheries have been broken and the extent of these broken promises will become apparent to all very soon.
‘People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, but their views have been ignored.
‘This is a far harder Brexit than could have been imagined when the EU referendum took place, damaging and disrupting this nation’s economy and society at the worst possible time.’
She added: ‘Scotland did not vote for any of this and our position is clearer than ever.
Ms Sturgeon is a staunch opponent of Brexit had previously made clear that if Scotland were to vote for independence in any future referendum she would try to take the country back into the EU
‘Scotland now has the right to choose its own future as an independent country and once more regain the benefits of EU membership.’
Last week, Mr Johnson stoked tensions with Ms Sturgeon by saying his Christmas gift to the Scottish leader was the ‘hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish’ Scotland would become the ‘proud possessor of’ in the New Year because of Brexit.
He insisted that Britain becoming an independent nation would mean she has more fish than ‘she can possibly consume herself for a very, very long time to come’.
However, it emerged after the deal was announced yesterday that the UK is reclaiming just 25 per cent of the EU’s fishing quota, which will be phased in over five and a half years.
Downing Street insisted this would mean the UK could be catching two thirds of fish in our waters by the year 2026.
Mr Johnson said after that that there will be ‘no limits’ beyond ‘conservation’.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said yesterday that Mr Johnson’s deal ‘delivers for Scotland and the whole UK’.
He added that it would allow the country to ‘move on from past divisions’ and ‘focus on the coronavirus recovery.’
Despite Ms Sturgeon’s scepticism, Scottish business leaders were also cautiously positive.
Andrew McRae, Scotland policy chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘The news that UK and EU negotiators have managed to strike an eleventh hour agreement sounds like good news for Scotland’s business community.
‘But until we understand the detail of the deal, it is difficult to forecast the overall impact on smaller firms north of the Border.
‘The end of the transition period will still result in a major change in trading conditions for many firms.
‘Given that Scotland’s smaller firms have faced down an oppressive year, we need to see the UK Government help smaller operators with depleted case reserves adapt.
‘That’s why we need to see a transition voucher scheme, as well as additional publicly funded support, rolled out as soon as possible.’
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