Scotland politics

Brexit: Holyrood leaders use FMQs to turn on Tories over EU vote

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Media captionFM Nicola Sturgeon delivered a stinging criticism of the Conservatives

Scotland's First Minister and three opposition leaders have turned on the Conservatives following last week's UK-wide vote to leave the European Union.

Nicola Sturgeon slammed outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron and other UK ministers for having no plan in the event of a leave outcome.

Labour's Kezia Dugdale; Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens and Lib Dem Willie Rennie joined the criticism.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Brexit talks should now be the focus.

Ms Sturgeon's attack on the Conservative Party came during the last First Minister's Questions of the parliamentary term.

She was answering questions the day after meeting officials in Brussels.

A week ago the UK voted by 52% to 48% to leave the EU. However, in Scotland people voted by 62% to 38% to stay a member of the European Union.

Image caption Ruth Davidson was keen to know what the Scottish government would do in forthcoming negotiations on EU exit

Ms Sturgeon told the Holyrood chamber: "I am not prepared as first minister simply to ignore how people in Scotland voted last week.

"I'm not prepared to shrug my shoulders and simply accept that a Tory government that we didn't even vote for here in Scotland can drag us out of the European Union against our will, and I think a majority of people here in Scotland agree with that position."

Ms Davidson was keen to know what role the Scottish government would play in negotiating a good deal for Scotland following the Brexit vote.

She called on the FM to follow the lead of London mayor Sadiq Khan and make the case for the UK to have continued access to the single market a "cornerstone" of talks with the EU.

Ms Davidson said the EU was "very important" but added "it is not as important as our own UK single market", saying while Scottish exports to the EU total about £11.6bn, that is roughly a quarter of exports to the rest of the UK, which raise £48.5bn.

What about independence?

She then pressed Ms Sturgeon on why she had already instructed civil servants to begin drafting the legislation that could pave the way for a second independence referendum

"How does that protect Scotland's place in the UK's single market?" Ms Davidson demanded.

Ms Sturgeon said her "starting point in these discussions is not independence", saying she is instead "doing what the Conservatives have so clearly failed to do" by seeking to protect Scotland's interests.

She added: "I don't think at this stage we should be looking at second-best options. I think we should be looking to protect what people in Scotland voted for."

Image caption Labour's Kezia Dugdale said the Tories had engaged in a "reckless gamble"
Image caption Patrick Harvie slammed Tory MP Boris Johnson

Labour's Ms Dugdale said the Tories had engaged in a "reckless gamble" which had "left us in a political, economic and constitutional crisis unparalleled in modern times".

She added: "People deserve to know, in fact they need to know, what is going to happen next."

Green co-convener Mr Harvie criticised the "chief fraudsters" of the Leave campaign, singling out "the irresponsibility of Mr (Boris) Johnson, one of the central architects of a deceitful Leave campaign for his abdication of responsibility for the mess he helped create".

He urged Ms Sturgeon to back his call for the UK government to introduce urgent emergency legislation to give all EU citizens already in the country indefinite leave to remain.

Income tax powers

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie also lambasted the Tories, saying: "I found it difficult to believe that Ruth Davidson showed no signs of embarrassment at all when she claimed to stand up for our place in the UK.

"Within weeks of becoming leader of the apparently official opposition, support for independence is now at a record high. God help the union if it carries on like that."

He asked whether the SNP administration would consider using income tax powers to mitigate the effects of Brexit, particularly on education.

Ms Sturgeon agreed that the Conservatives should "feel deeply ashamed of themselves right now" and added that care now needed to be taken to look at "all elements of our budgetary planning".

Image caption Willie Rennie wanted to know what the financial situation would be for Scotland

ANALYSIS - By BBC Scotland's Andrew Black

The way first minister's questions usually works is that opposition leaders pick a few issues of the day, with which they attempt to browbeat the Scottish government into some kind of admission of failure.

But today, it was the Conservatives which were given the public enemy number one treatment in the Holyrood chamber.

Kicking things off, Tory leader Ruth Davidson talked of the importance of the UK's own single market, while accusing Nicola Sturgeon of exploiting Brexit to push another Scottish independence referendum.

Ms Sturgeon was having none of it, as she said it was the Conservatives which had put the UK on the line by calling an EU referendum based on self-interest.

And then the other parties weighed in.

Kezia Dugdale, of Scottish Labour, said she shared the first minister's desire to make Scotland's voice heard in Europe, while Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he couldn't believe Ms Davidson wasn't embarrassed by her actions.

Patrick Harvie of the Greens - who seems quite keen for indyref2 - hit out at the "chief fraudsters of the Leave campaign".

The chief fraudsters, Ms Sturgeon said, were now "stabbing each other in the back".

Things are changing fast. The first minister has stressed that a second independence referendum on Scottish independence is not currently her top move.

She says all options are on the table.

At the moment, it's not entirely clear what all those other options are, but Ms Sturgeon has pledged a strategy of openness, as things go forward.

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