Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland standing at a Brexit 'crossroads'

Nicola Sturgeon said Brexit meant that some devolved powers were under threat. Credit: Pool

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the country is standing at a Brexit "crossroads" and must choose whether or not it wants to be part of a post-Brexit UK.

Ms Sturgeon used a speech in Edinburgh to argue that a second independence referendum was potentially "the only way" for Scotland to have a say in the negotiations.

She said that "in the absence of compromise" another independence vote "may offer the only way in which our voice can be heard, our interests protected, and our values upheld."

In an address to the David Hume Institute, Ms Sturgeon said that events before, during and after the Brexit vote demonstrated that "the democratic deficit which fuelled the demand for a Scottish Parliament in the 1980s and 1990s has opened up again".

The UK Government still has an opportunity to change course and to seek compromise that we are open to, and I very much hope that it takes that opportunity ahead of the triggering of Article 50. However, if it doesn't it will show that the democratic deficit which people voted to end in 1997 doesn't just endure - it continues to have the potential to cause harm to our interests, to our international relationships, to our very sense of our own identity. And so if those circumstances arise, proposing a further decision on independence wouldn't simply be legitimate, it would arguably be a necessary way of giving the people of Scotland a say in our own future direction. It would offer Scotland a proper choice on whether or not to be part of a post-Brexit UK - a UK that is undoubtedly on a fundamentally different path today than that envisaged in 2014. >

Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon also warned that the powers of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood were at risk from the Conservative government following the vote to leave the European Union.

She added: "As a result of the Brexit vote, we, Scotland and the UK, stand now at a crossroads. Decisions taken in the months to come will reshape our economy, our society and our place in the world. In short they will shape the kind of country we're going to be.

"The question is should we decide for ourselves which path to take or are we willing to have that path decided for us? We may all offer different answers to that question but surely the choice should be ours."

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale accused Ms Sturgeon of "ridiculous scaremongering" while Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson described the speech as "hyperbole" and "synthetic grievance".

A UK Government spokesman said: "These claims completely misrepresent the UK Government's position.

"We have been very clear that no decisions currently taken by Holyrood will be taken away."