Scotland politics

Mundell to put 'Scottish interests' at centre of Brexit talks

David Mundell Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Mundell has said he will work closely with the Scottish government

The UK government is to hold talks with key groups and sectors in Scotland, such as farming and oil and gas, on the impact of leaving the European Union.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he wants to ensure Scottish interests are at the heart of negotiations.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already set out what she believes are Scotland's main interests in its relationship with the EU.

Mr Mundell has said he will work closely with the Scottish government.

Scottish voters backed remaining in the EU by a margin of 62% to 38% in June's referendum while the UK as a whole voted by 52% to 48% to leave.

Speaking after the Brexit vote, Ms Sturgeon said a second independence vote was "highly likely" but promised to explore other options.

Mr Mundell said he now planned to hold a series of discussions, meeting members of the oil and gas sector, farmers, the creative industries, the legal sector and new business start-ups, to hear their priorities.

Talks will also take place with local authorities across Scotland, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, the armed forces and the Young Scot organisation.

'Best possible outcome'

The Scottish secretary said: "I am looking forward to meeting groups from across Scotland to hear directly from them what their priorities are following the vote by the UK to leave the European Union.

"My task is to ensure that Scottish voices and interests are at the centre of the negotiations to come, and that is why this engagement is so important.

"We are determined to take a 'Team UK' approach to this process, working closely with the Scottish government and other partners as we form our negotiating strategy, and we will look at any suggestions they put forward."

He added: "At every step of the way, the UK government will work to ensure the best possible outcome for the British people and for all parts of our United Kingdom."

"While the UK is leaving the EU, we will of course remain part of Europe. The United Kingdom will always be an outward-looking, globally-minded country, which is very much open for business."

Image caption Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met in Edinburgh last month

In a speech to business leaders, charities and public sector organisations in Edinburgh last month, the first minister listed the five key interests she will seek to protect during the coming months' negotiations.

She said these were democratic interests, economic interests, social protection, solidarity and having influence.

Ms Sturgeon also met with new Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the way forward following the UK's vote to leave the EU.

After the meeting Mrs May said she was "willing to listen to options" on Scotland's future relationship with the EU.

Ms Sturgeon has said it is in the UK government's interest to help find a solution short of a second independence poll.

She has previously said: "We can seek to find - or create - a solution that enables Scotland's distinctive voice to be heard and our interests to be protected within the UK. Or we can consider again the option of independence.

"I don't underestimate the challenge of finding such a solution."

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