Nicola Sturgeon to hold talks with European leaders

Nicola Sturgeon

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The first minister is to make a speech in Brussels before meeting European leaders

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to hold talks with European leaders as part of a visit to Brussels.

Ms Sturgeon will meet EU President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier after making a speech on European policy.

She said she would restate her government’s backing for continued EU membership and shared European values.

The SNP leader will also launch a “Made in Scotland” festival of theatre, dance and music performances in Belgium.

Talks over the UK’s exit from the EU have been deadlocked for months, and have now taken a back seat to the Conservative leadership contest which will decide who replaces Theresa May as prime minister.

All 10 candidates in the running have pledged to deliver Brexit, but are divided on how and when to do so.

Ahead of her speech at the European Policy Centre, Ms Sturgeon said people in Scotland had “shown that they comprehensively reject Brexit and want to remain as a European nation”.

She added: “Membership of the EU not only has huge economic benefits for Scotland, but is the basis of the core values we share around democracy, equality, co-operation and human rights.

“My engagements in Brussels are an opportunity to outline the Scottish government’s support for those values and how they contribute to a better Scotland, Europe and wider world.

“On issues such as climate change and tackling inequality we can all work together to ensure the wellbeing of our citizens, as well as the wealth of member states.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said Ms Sturgeon “refuses to accept the result” of the EU referendum “because she lost it”, adding that “democracy will be damaged fundamentally” if politicians “change the rules after the event”.

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