Scotland’s first minister and leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), Sturgeon, 46, came to power in Edinburgh after the 2014 Scottish referendum on independence, in which 55 percent voted to keep Scotland in the UK. At the time, EU membership had been touted by No campaigners as one reason to stay, on the argument that an independent Scotland would lose EU membership.
But the Brexit referendum brought the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum closer than previously imagined and shone an international spotlight on Sturgeon and her Europhile nation of five million. Sixty-two percent of Scotland voted Remain, in sharp contrast to Great Britain’s 52 percent Leave vote.
A lawyer-turned-politician, Sturgeon has taken her case in defence of Scotland’s pro-EU interests to Brussels and London alike, lashing out at May’s reluctance to compromise and repeatedly raising the spectre of a new independence vote. "The UK government cannot be allowed to take us out of the EU and the single market, regardless of the impact on our economy, jobs, living standards and our reputation as an open, tolerant country, without Scotland having the ability to choose between that and a different future," she said after May presented her vision for Brexit in January. "With her comments today, the prime minister has only succeeded in making that choice more likely."
“As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable,” Sturgeon said in Edinburgh after the referendum. “I think an independence referendum is now highly likely.”
“The approach the first minister has followed since the referendum is one of always spoiling for a fight, trying to get into a confrontation,” David Mundell, the May government’s minister responsible for Scotland, told Bloomberg Television in October. “That’s not the approach we want. We want to make sure that Scotland’s views are fully reflected in the Brexit discussions and they will be,” said Mundell, Scotland’s only Tory MP.
Photo credit: Andy Buchanan, AFP