Sturgeon urges rest of UK to move to Scotland to escape May's Brexit

Jon Sharman

Nicola Sturgeon has issued an open call to people across the UK to move to Scotland ahead of Brexit.

The First Minister was addressing the SNP's spring conference and extended her invitation to everyone "as appalled as we are at the path this Westminster government is taking".

Having insisted "there will be an independence referendum"—though she has yet to secure a Holyrood vote for a Section 30 notification, much less Westminster's blessing to hold the ballot—Ms Sturgeon painted Scotland as a potential beacon of modernity and openness.

She said: "Scotland isn't full up. If you are as appalled as we are at the path this Westminster government is taking, come and join us.

"Come here to live, work, invest or study. Come to Scotland and be part of building a modern, progressive, outward-looking, compassionate country."

Ms Sturgeon has made clear she opposes a hard Brexit and used her speech in Aberdeen on Saturday to attack Theresa May's "intransigence", warning it spelled problems for the UK in its negotiations with the European Union.

She said: "The Prime Minister's attitude should worry all of us hoping that negotiations with Europe will not be a disaster because—and let me put this bluntly—if she shows the same condescension and inflexibility, the same tin ear, to other EU countries as she has to Scotland then the Brexit process will hit the rocks."

Ms Sturgeon shocked the UK Government when she announced on Monday she wanted to hold a second independence referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, once the terms of Brexit are known. She said she wanted Scots to be able to make an "informed" choice.

Ms May, however, said Britain will only get the deal it needs from the EU if Scotland is "pulling together" with the rest of the country, and that "now is not the time" for a re-run of the 2014 poll.

MSPs are expected to back the First Minister's call for a Section 30 order to be granted when Holyrood votes on the issue on Wednesday. The Scottish Parliament could then formally ask Westminster to grant it authority to hold a legally-binding referendum.

At the conference, Ms Sturgeon also set out her stall on another area of Brexit controversy, the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

She said: "In an independent Scotland, the SNP would guarantee unequivocally the right to stay here for all EU citizens who do us the honour of making our country their home."

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