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'Flirting With EFTA': Sturgeon Says Scotland May Join Free Trade Association

© REUTERS / Jeff OversScotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in London, May 14, 2017.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in London, May 14, 2017. - Sputnik International
With the UK general election and Brexit on the agenda, Britain's political landscape has certainly been ferocious, and now the Scottish National Party's (SNP) assertion that Scotland may seek EFTA free trade zone membership, if it leaves the UK, continues to add more fuel to the fire.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister and leader of the SNP, called for a new referendum on Scotland's independence following the 2016 Brexit vote of June 23, however her request was denied by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who said that the timing for a Scottish vote on independence from Britain was not right.

Sturgeon argued that the majority of people in Scotland voted to stay in the EU; however she has said that becoming a union member may not be an immediate goal for an independent Scotland.

In an interview with the BBC, Nicola Sturgeon said that depending on the Brexit terms, Scotland may instead seek to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) before applying for full EU membership.

The EFTA is an intergovernmental organization that was set up for the promotion of free trade and economic integration to the benefit of its four member states — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. 

EFTA members participate in the EU's single market — one of Scotland's main goals.

"It may be by necessity, but we don't want that. We have to set that out at the time, because there are still some uncertainties, many uncertainties, around the Brexit process," Sturgeon said.

Scotland's First Minister made it clear that the general election would be the main focus for her party (SNP) and that she hopes it will give Scotland a "stronger voice" in formulating Brexit terms, and eventually, demanding another independence referendum.

"For me, this is a question of, at the end of the Brexit process, does Scotland get a choice about our future. At the end of the Brexit process, I believe people in Scotland should have a choice over our future," Sturgeon said.

However, not everyone was happy with the change in direction by the first minister. The deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative party leader, Jackson Carlaw, said that the Sturgeon was "flirting with EFTA."

"Now, in a cynical attempt to win back 'Leave' voters who have deserted the SNP, she now refuses to say whether an independent Scotland would go back in. Her flirtation with EFTA would leave us with all the obligations, but no voice in decision-making," Carlaw said.

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