Nicola Sturgeon: Austerity linked to Brexit vote

Nicola Sturgeon says the Government must tackle 'disenfranchisement'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Nicola Sturgeon says the Government must tackle 'disenfranchisement'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Nicola Sturgeon has blamed a sense of “disenfranchisement and disillusionment” for the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Scotland’s First Minister also urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to abandon his predecessor George Osborne’s austerity programme in order to address the feeling of “inequality” and “powerlessness” behind Brexit.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors’ annual convention at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Ms Sturgeon said: “We’re working with business to create a society where the benefits of economic growth are shared more equally, so that future growth is stronger and more sustainable.

“I think the EU referendum shows it is more important than ever.

“I’m proud of the fact that Scotland voted strongly to remain in the EU. But I can’t ignore the fact that, even in Scotland, a million people voted to leave.

“They didn’t think the EU benefited them, and see the advantages of free trade and free movement.”

She said there were “many, many causes” for people voting to Leave, such as doubts about the EU as an organisation.

She added: “But in part, I think Brexit was a product of a sense of disenfranchisement and disillusionment.

“It was borne of inequality, of feelings of powerlessness, of austerity budgets which hurt public services and social safety nets that so many people rely on.

“One of the consequences of the referendum, I think, must be a new effort, and I hope it’s given real substance in the UK Government’s autumn statement, to ensure the benefits of growth and globalisation are more fairly distributed.”

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