An independent Scotland would be welcomed with “open arms” by the EU, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today, the First Minister said that Scotland would not be dissimilar to other, smaller countries currently in the EU if it was to gain membership as an independent nation.
Last week, Ms Sturgeon suggested there was a “real chance” for the country to stay within the EU.
“While I don’t expect the European Union ever to interfere in the decision about independence, I am more confident than I’ve ever been – and I was pretty confident back in 2014 – that Scotland would be welcomed with open arms by the EU,” said the First Minister.
“If you look at the 27 member states of the EU, about a dozen of them are countries similar in size to or smaller than Scotland, so it’s perfectly normal to be a small, independent country in the EU.”
At the SNP’s manifesto launch in Glasgow last week, Ms Sturgeon also warned the prospect of a Boris Johnson premiership, supported by Nigel Farage, would be a “nightmare” for Scotland.
On a visit to Edinburgh last week, however, Mr Farage indicated he could not support Mr Johnson as he was unsure about his stance over Brexit.
In Newcastle city centre on Monday, a man, who was later charged by police, threw a milkshake over the Brexit Party leader.
Mr Farage told a rally in Bolton on Monday evening: “I won’t even acknowledge the low-grade behaviour that I was subjected to this morning, I won’t dignify it, I will ignore it. Perhaps keep buying new clothes and carry on.
“For a civilised democratic nation to function in democracy, the loser has to give their consent. The loser has to accept they’ve lost the election and do their best to win the next election. That is how our system works.”
Asked about the treatment received by Mr Farage, Nicola Sturgeon said that politicians of all parties should be able to campaign and debate, regardless of whether you agree with them or not.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Whatever you think of Nigel Farage and I’m, as you’ve probably gathered, not a great fan of Nigel Farage, I don’t think we should be condoning or encouraging people to behave in that way.
“Not least because it took the attention away from a big story yesterday about where the Brexit party gets its money from.
“I think the better treatment for people who oppose Nigel Farage is to ignore him. He hates being ignored, and then go out on Thursday and vote against him.
“But all politicians, of whatever party, should be able to campaign amongst the public and have vigorous and robust debate, but not have to worry about things like that happening.”
In promoting a pro-Europe message, Ms Sturgeon claimed EU citizens contributed £4.4 billion to Scotland each year.
“The importance of our fellow EU citizens to Scotland’s economy and our society is just one area where Westminster have their fingers in their ears,” she said.
“Scotland benefits enormously from Europe and the contribution made by EU citizens – to the tune of £4.4bn each year – helps support our NHS and boosts the economy and living standards for the benefit of all of us.
“For the 223,000 EU citizens living in Scotland who are our family members, neighbours, colleagues and friends – Scotland is home. And SNP MEPs will fight tooth and nail to ensure that remains the case.
“Our future is being put at risk by a Tory government, aided by a Brexit-backing Labour party, who have consistently ignored Scotland’s wishes.
“With two days to go, it is only a vote for the SNP that can send a message that Scotland’s future lies in Europe.”