Scotland has a veto over Article 50 timing, Nicola Sturgeon suggests

Posted On: 
17th July 2016

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested Scotland has a veto over the timing of the UK triggering the process of leaving the European Union.

Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May
PA Images

After talks with the First Minister on Friday, Theresa May said Article 50 would not be invoked before there was a "UK approach" to Brexit negotiations.

Ms Sturgeon said she was in a “strong position” following the Prime Minister’s statement and would now work to assess all of the available options to Scotland to keep it inside the EU.

The SNP leader also refused to rule out Scotland remaining a member of both the European Union and the United Kingdom after Wales, Northern Ireland and England exited the bloc.

After her first visit to Edinburgh since becoming Prime Minister, Mrs May said she was "willing to listen to options" on Scotland's future.

Scots voted by a strong majority to remain a member of the EU, and Ms Sturgeon has held talks with EU officials as she campaigns to preserve her country’s membership.

Speaking this morning, Ms Sturgeon agreed it appeared to agree that she holds a veto on the timing of the legal process of leaving the bloc being triggered.

“That certainly appeared to be an interpretation that some put on the Prime Minister’s remarks after the meeting,” she told the Andrew Marr show.

“Certainly from what she said after the meeting I think that puts Scotland now in a very, very strong position and it puts me in a strong position. Of course it puts a responsibility on my shoulders to think through what the options are.

“We’ve already started that work to see if we can bring forward options that effectively square this circle.”


The Scottish First Minister said there “might be” a situation in which Scotland remains in the EU and a member of the United Kingdom, even after the other home nations have left the institution.

“I don’t think that should be ruled out at this early stage. We don’t even know yet what relationship with the EU the UK is going to be seeking to achieve, which in itself is as you say rather incredible,” she said.

She added that a failure to maintain Scotland’s European Union membership could precipitate a second independence referendum.

“If it’s not possible to do that… then I’ve been very clear that of course the option of a second independence referendum is one that has to be on the table,” she said.

David Davis, the minister in charge of Brexit, said he hopes the UK would be able to initiate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the formal process for leaving the EU – “before or by the start of next year”.

He predicted Britain could leave the EU by December 2018.