External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop has warned it will be "democratically unacceptable" for Scotland to be taken out of the EU against its will as she prepares to meet leading European figures in Brussels.
The SNP Government will stand up for EU nationals who have chosen to make Scotland their home, Ms Hyslop has said. The minister will attend the Friends of Europe annual conference in the Belgian capital tomorrow and warned that Scotland will fight to maintain its relations with the EU after the Brexit vote. Scotland voted decisively by 62%-38% to Remain, but the weight of votes south of the border swung the outcome for Brexit.
“Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU and the Scottish Government welcomes that outcome," Ms Hyslop said ahead of the conference.
"The UK vote means that Scotland risks being taken out of Europe against its will and that is democratically unacceptable. Our priority is to protect all of Scotland’s interests."
Over 250 participants are due to attend the conference tomorrow including Ministers, former Heads of State, European Commissioners, parliamentarians, academics, international organisation representatives and young European leaders and media representatives.
The cabinet secretary will say that the Scottish Government "strongly values" the contribution that EU citizens make in Scotland.
"We will continue to press the UK Government for the protection of their right to live and work here," she added.
"We have been clear about the benefits of being a member of the EU – the prosperity and economic opportunities which membership of the single market brings to our nation; the social protections it gives to our workers; the human rights it affords our people; and the important standards which protect our environment.
“We are now in uncharted territory. Brexit has not yet happened – Article 50 will not be invoked until next year. We are at the start of a process and we are ready to work creatively and positively with the UK Government and with all of our friends across Europe to shape a future that respects the interests of Scotland and the UK and benefits all of our citizens.”