Sturgeon links Brexit to austerity in London speech


Nicola Sturgeon has linked the Brexit vote to the UK government’s austerity policies.

The Scottish first minister also said remaining a member of the single market after Brexit “will be crucial”.

And she argued that the UK-wide result of the EU referendum was not a mandate for a hard Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon was addressing the annual conference of the Institute of Directors at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Prime Minister Theresa May has predicted that the UK will make a success of Brexit, and that Scotland’s status would be enhanced as a result of leaving the EU.

But Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader, told the conference that continued membership of the European single market ‎was the “obvious consensus position” among Leave and Remain voters in the EU referendum.

‘Reasonable doubts’

But she acknowledged that certain aspects of single market membership, such as freedom of movement, “will not satisfy everyone”.

She also argued that inequality was a key reason behind the EU referendum result, and that the UK government “can no longer ignore the social and economic cost” of austerity.

Ms Sturgeon said: “There are many, many causes of the vote to leave the EU. For many people, they will have included entirely reasonable doubts and reservations about the EU. It is, after all, an imperfect organisation.

“But in part, 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 the public services and social safety nets that so many people depend on.

“And so one consequence of the referendum must be a new effort – which needs to be given real substance in the UK government’s autumn statement – to ensure that the benefits of growth, of globalisation, are more fairly distributed.”

Ms Sturgeon said she was “very proud of the fact that Scotland voted so strongly to remain in the European Union”, but that should could not ignore the fact that a million Scottish voters wanted to leave.(bbcnews)


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