Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon took to the stage at the IoD’s 2016 Annual Convention and argued passionately against a ‘hard Brexit’
“I don’t believe we should accept the inevitability of a hard Brexit,” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the IoD’s 2016 Annual Convention.
Continuing that she “deeply regrets the outcome of the referendum,” Sturgeon added that it was now important to take the course of action that will do the least damage and “to exert as much influence as possible on the UK government although it would be helpful to know more about the UK government’s current thinking.”
Addressing an audience of British business leaders at the Royal Albert Hall, Sturgeon said that while she was proud that the majority of Scotland voted to stay [in Europe], she couldn’t ignore the fact that one million people in Scotland voted to leave and said that “In part, I think Brexit was a product of a sense of disenfranchisement and disillusionment and that one consequence of the referendum must be that the benefits of growth and globalisation are more fairly distributed.”
Today’s IoD’s Annual Convention is the biggest and most prestigious business event in the UK.
“Remaining a member of EU will be crucial to business in Scotland,” she continued. “Over the past few years the government that I now lead has strived to make the Scotland a great place to do business.”
Nicola Sturgeon on entrepreneurship
She cited the introduction of the small business bonus scheme that is now “being emulated by the UK government,” the investment in education, the expansion of childcare and record numbers of apprenticeships as some of the improvements that have been brought in by her government.
“We want Scotland to become an entrepreneurial nation,” she continued and told the packed hall that Scotland consistently outperforms every part of the UK apart from London when it comes to attracting inward investment.
“We find ourselves in a situation not of our making but will deal with as constructively and positively as possible. A referendum on Scottish independence must remain an option but that’s not my starting point – my starting point is to do everything I can to preserve the benefits of EU membership. That won’t be straightforward but nothing about Brexit is straightforward. Single market membership seems to me to be the least damaging outcome for businesses across the UK.”
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