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Sturgeon: Independent Scotland rejoining EU would need to confront border issues

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

An independent Scotland would need to confront border issues with the rest of the UK if returning to the European Union, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Concerns have been raised by critics of Scottish independence who say Scotland rejoining the EU would result in a hard border with England.

The first minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government of an independent Scotland would negotiate terms to “allow businesses to keep trading”.

MORE: Scottish independence: How to draw a line in the sea

Sturgeon said: “This is the frankness that certain sections of the media will seek to stir up trouble on – I am not denying that we would need to confront and resolve the issues of being in the European Union for the border between Scotland and England.

“If we do that in a way that allows businesses to keep trading, because businesses are already paying the price of having a border because of Brexit, we open up the European Union again.

“That is massively important for Scottish businesses, and also makes Scotland more attractive again in terms of inward investment to secure that access to the single market.”

The first minister also said Scotland would remain in the common travel area with the rest of the UK and Ireland, adding “nobody with any shred of credibility” is suggesting otherwise.

Sturgeon asserted that next week’s Holyrood election is not about the specifics of independence and neither she nor her party plans to hold a referendum in the near future, but she was asked repeatedly about the functions of an independent Scotland.

The Alba Party led by Sturgeon’s predecessor Alex Salmond has said that if it wins any seats in next week’s vote, it will table a motion to instruct the Scottish government to immediately begin negotiations with the UK government on independence in the first week of the new parliamentary term.

When asked whether the SNP would vote for such a motion, Sturgeon said she doubts whether Alba will return any MSPs, and added: “My immediate focus, if I’m re-elected next Thursday, is to get back to work to continue to steer this country through Covid.

“I don’t believe we should propose a referendum right at this moment.

I’m a life-long supporter in independence, I want Scotland to be independent. But firstly we’ve got to steer the country through the crisis and we’ve got to build the majority for independence through patient persuasion.

“People who are serious about achieving independence I think understand that.

“I think talk of supermajorities and gaming the system and trying to bulldoze our way to independence almost regardless of the state of public opinion risks putting those we need to persuade of independence off rather than pulling them towards us.”