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Reuters Newsmakers: Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon looks firmly on the bright side

From Brexit to economic development and Scottish independence, Scotland's First Minister remained firmly upbeat at a London Reuters event.

Nicola Sturgeon might not know what a post-Brexit world will look like, but in a May 14 Reuters Newsmaker interview, Scotland’s First Minister firmly struck a pragmatic, verging on positive, tone.

At several points during her interview with Reuters Global News Editor Alessandra Galloni, Sturgeon made it a point to note she was taking the optimist’s view of circumstances. For example, she said she did think there was momentum toward a damage-minimizing “soft” Brexit before she conceded there were less cheerful ways of looking at it.

“I guess there is a risk — probably a greater risk today than there was three, six, nine months ago — of the whole process falling apart,” she said, later calling the idea of a “no deal” Brexit “catastrophic.”

Sturgeon acknowledged Scottish businesses are having a hard time not knowing what the future holds, but said her administration is trying to prepare them for a future where they are not a part of the EU.

“We are trying as hard as we can to influence the direction of travel toward a softer Brexit, where trade is not disrupted and customs don’t become a barrier to trade,” she said. “We are working across a range of sectors, as we have been since the day after the referendum, almost, to understand their specific concerns. It’s very difficult for companies to prepare when they don’t know what the arrangements will be.”

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits the Rolls Royce plant at Inchinnan, Scotland, Britain, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits the Rolls Royce plant at Inchinnan, Scotland, Britain, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

When Galloni asked Sturgeon is the concept of Scottish independence had taken a backseat to the EU question, Sturgeon acknowledged it may no longer be a top priority, but hastened to clarify the issue isn’t going away.

“There is a sense that we need to get to a point where there is some clarity on the UK-EU relationship before we can inform our understanding of the Scotland-UK relationship,” she said, later adding it will “never be off the table until it’s realized.”

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