The Queen issued an appeal for calm among political leaders in the aftermath of the EU referendum result as she opened the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament yesterday.
But Nicola Sturgeon told the monarch in response that she would “never diminish” Scotland’s place in the world and was determined the country will remain at the heart of a “stronger Europe” despite the referendum outcome.
The address from the Queen came just nine days after the dramatic decision to leave the EU which has seen Sturgeon warn she is preparing for a second independence referendum in Scotland, while the main political parties at Westminster descend into chaos. Scots voted overwhelmingly to Remain, but English and Welsh votes carried the result for Leave
The Queen told MSPs yesterday that they face an “increasingly complex and demanding world.
“Events and developments can, and do, take place at remarkable speed,” she said during an address in the Holyrood chamber.
“Retaining the ability to stay calm and collected can at times be hard. As this parliament has successfully demonstrated over the years, one hallmark of leadership in such a fast-moving world is allowing sufficient room for quiet thinking and contemplation, which can in turn enable deeper, cooler consideration of how challenges and opportunities can be best addressed.”
The Queen told MSPs that the new controls coming to the parliament over incomes tax rates and bands as well as welfare will be “significant”.
“I remain confident that you will use the powers at your disposal wisely and continue to serve the interests of all the people of Scotland to the best of your ability,” she said.
The EU referendum last week saw Scotland vote to remain by 62 per cent to 38 per cent. But the UK-wide result saw 52 per cent to 48 per cent backing Leave.
Sturgeon used her formal response to the Queen to reflect on “who we are in Scotland” today.
“We are the 80,000 Polish people, the 8,000 Lithuanians, the 7,000 each from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Latvia who are among the many from countries beyond our shores we are so privileged to have living here amongst us,” the First Minister said.
“We are the more than half a million people born in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who have chosen to live here in Scotland. We are the thousands of European students studying at our universities and colleges. We are the doctors and nurses from all across our continent and beyond who care for us daily in our NHS.”
Sturgeon stressed the “open and inclusive nation that we are, the open and inclusive nation we are determined to remain”.
The First Minister added: “Let us lead with hope and determination and make this resolution. We will work every day to achieve greater equality and enhance and never diminish our precious place in the world.
“Let us look forward with hope and shared determination to work tirelessly for all of Scotland’s people and in doing so to play our part in a stronger Europe and a better world.”
Holyrood’s Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, called for an end to the divisive political debate in Scotland in recent years after both the EU and Scottish independence referendums.
He added; “It takes determination to move away from the trench warfare of party lines. It takes real purpose if we are to soften the binary divisions: Yes or No, Leave or Remain.”