Nicola Sturgeon to talk up independent Scotland's EU status in Brussels visit

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Nicola Sturgeon will set out how an independent Scotland can remain part of the EU today as she meets euro chiefs in Brussels.

The First Minister again made it clear as she arrived in the Belgian capital that she plans to stage a fresh referendum on Scottish independence, ahead of meetings with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: AFP/Getty

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: AFP/Getty

And the First Minister will also make a speech at the European Policy Centre where she will set out how she plans to pave the way for Scotland to remain in the EU after a Yes vote.

"Scotland in my view must have the option of choosing to become independent in order to remain a country at the heart of Europe if that cannot be achieved within the UK," Ms Sturgeon told Sky News.

"That's why we've started preparations in the Scottish Parliament to give people that choice."

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Legislation has been published at Holyrood on the way future referendums should be run and she wants to see this vote held next year.

However such a vote would require approval from Westminster which has power over the constitution all the contenders to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister have indicated they would reject such a move.

The SNP leader's visit comes just weeks after the European elections - where the SNP increased its share of the vote and won three of the six spots for Scottish MEPs. But Ms Sturgeon also believes that Brexit can be halted.

"There is a now a greater proposition of a second (EU) referendum," she added.

"It requires, of course, the Labour opposition to get off the fence and back that unequivocally. If that happens and I do think that's a prospect that's not guaranteed, but it certainly has increased in possibility.

"That said I'm concerned that the risk of a no deal has also increased, so we will continue to work as hard as we can to avoid that and to bring about a better outcome and the UK staying in the EU.