Sturgeon: Brexit a product of “disenfranchisement” – time to drop austerity

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to use his Autumn Statement on 23 November to reverse austerity cuts, claiming the austerity policies had been “a major driver” in the UK vote to leave the European Union.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors’ annual convention, Ms Sturgeon highlighted that the majority of Scots had voted to remain within the EU but insisted she could not ignore the million plus voters who had elected to leave. In an effort to influence the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the First Minister claimed the Government has to realise “Brexit was a product of a sense of disenfranchisement and disillusionment” because of austerity, also arguing ministers must use the annual financial policy announcement to ensure the benefits of globalisation and economic growth are more fairly distributed. Ms Sturgeon also noted that she and colleagues were looking at ways in which the benefits of Single Market could be retained by Scotland if discarded by the rest of the UK – although such suggestions are unlikely to be supported by the Government and would likely be challenged by EU officials.

Ms Sturgeon has previously suggested that the Brexit vote could prompt a second Scottish referendum given the level of support amongst Scots for remaining within the EU. However, EU officials have insisted any country claiming independence from a member state leaving the EU would have to reapply for membership, while the Scottish Nationalists’ calls for a second referendum were dented by Parliament elections earlier in the year when they lost their majority.