Nicola Sturgeon has warned of ‘challenges’ in her bid to keep Scotland in the EU after Britain voted for Brexit.
The First Minister met with Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, this morning and will meet Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker later.
The First Minster has vowed to protect Scotland’s place in the EU after the referendum after no part of the country backed Leave.
But before she even arrived, Ms Sturgeon suffered a blow when Donald Tusk’s officials made it plain that he had no time to meet her. A source close to council president Mr Tusk said: ‘This is not the right, appropriate moment to meet.’
After her first meeting with Mr Schulz, the First Minister said: ‘It is for me to set out Scotland’s position and Scotland’s desire to remain in the European Union and to protect our relationship with the European Union.
‘It was very much an introductory meeting and I was very grateful for the president’s time this morning.’
Nicola Sturgeon was greeted by European Parliament President Martin Schulz as she arrived in Brussels for meetings on Scotland’s place in the EU today
Ms Sturgeon and Mr Schulz discussed the referendum result a day after Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Brussels to explain his referendum defeat
Ms Sturgeon added: ‘We are at a very early stage of this process. I set out very clearly Scotland’s desire to protect our relationship with the European Union – I don’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead.
‘This is very much an initial series of meetings in Brussels today so that people understand Scotland unlike other parts of the United Kingdom.’
Ms Sturgeon plans a charm offensive in her remaining meetings today to make the case that Scotland should remain in the bloc after 62 per cent of Scots voted to stay.
The snub from Mr Tusk come as a setback for Ms Sturgeon because the European Council is made up of all the heads of member states who will have to unanimously agree any deal for Scotland.
Several member states, notably Spain, would oppose Scotland joining the EU for fear that it would stoke up separatism.
Commission president Mr Juncker will meet with Ms Sturgeon at 4pm after earlier also turning her down.
Before the visit, Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament today that Scotland’s voice ‘will be heard’ after the UK voted for Brexit.
She secured cross-party backing from MSPs to pursue talks aimed at protecting Scotland’s place in the EU.
During an emergency debate at Holyrood, she said: ‘Scotland spoke clearly for Remain and I am determined that Scotland’s voice will be heard.’
Ms Sturgeon, seen during yesterday’s statement on Brexit in the Scottish Parliament, has been snubbed by Donald Tusk today
Removing Scotland from the EU against the will of its citizens would be ‘democratically unacceptable’, she said.
She insisted there cannot be ‘three months of drift’ while both the Tories and Labour hold leadership contests at Westminster.
She will ask the parliament to rubber stamp a second independence referendum if she walks away from Brussels with no support for staying in the EU.
This would happen if a second referendum is ‘the best or only way to protect Scotland’s place in the EU,’ she said.
She also received a boost from Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister who leads the liberal group in the European Parliament.
Asked if an independent Scotland could join the European Union before the United Kingdom formally leaves the organisation, he told the Scottish TV channel, STV: ‘I think this possibility has to exist, yeah.
Because if Scotland decides to leave the UK, to be an independent state, and they decide to be part of the European Union I think there is no big obstacle to do that.’
The leading EU politician said it would be ‘suicide’ for the organisation to not be ‘sympathetic’ to countries that wanted to join the European Union.
He said: ‘The European Union is so big, such a good and fantastic project that is suicide not to be sympathetic to those who want to join the European Union.’
Donald Tusk (pictured today), the president of the European Council, will snub Nicola Sturgeon tomorrow as she heads to Brussels to fight for Scotland to stay in the EU
We’ll miss EU, Dave! Cameron shares a laugh with his Brussels pals as he says farewell to fellow European leaders at his final summit following humiliating Brexit defeat
David Cameron laughed and joked with Angela Merkel and other European leaders in Brussels today as he attended what is likely to be his last EU summit before handing over to his successor in September.
The Prime Minister urged whoever takes over in Downing Street should forge the ‘closest possible relationship’ with the EU and urged his European counterparts today to pursue a ‘constructive’ approach to negotiations.
At a dinner with the heads of states tonight he faces the awkward task of explaining how he oversaw Britain’s shock decision to leave the EU last week but he signalled his conciliatory approach as he declared: ‘We mustn’t be turning our backs on Europe’.
David Cameron laughed and joked with Charles Michel, opposite, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, second left, and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, left, as he attended what is likely to be his last EU summit in Brussels today before he hands over to his successor in September
David Cameron chats to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Brussels today. She has appealed for calm following last week’s Brexit vote but warned Britain it will not be able to ‘cherry-pick’ EU privileges during negotiations
Mr Cameron, who will only serve as Prime Minister until September 9 at the latest, said Britain and the EU had a mutual interest in agreeing the best possible deal on trade, cooperation and security.
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On arrival in the Belgium capital he met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, posing for pictures in front of the hastily erected Union and EU flags.
The Prime Minister held meetings with individual leaders before addressing them all at what promises to be an awkward and frosty dinner tonight to discuss last week’s dramatic Brexit vote.
But he has been frozen out of official meetings among EU leaders tomorrow, when they will start to discuss their approach of forging a new relationship with Britain outside the bloc.
The meeting of EU heads of state is a routine summit but European Council President Donald Tusk chose only to include Mr Cameron in official proceedings for today’s itinerary.
In a sign of the hard-line approach being taken by Brussels, Mr Juncker ordered Brussels chiefs not to enter into any ‘secret negotiations’ with the UK over the terms of Brexit.
He and other leaders today underlined their position that they will not start negotiatoins over a new relationship until the UK gives formal notifications of its intention to withdraw by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Speaking ahead of an afternoon of meetings, Mr Cameron told reporters: ‘I’ll be explaining that Britain will be leaving the European Union, but I want that process to be as constructive as possible and I hope the outcome will be as constructive as possible.
‘While we’re leaving the European Union we mustn’t be turning our backs on Europe.
‘These countries are our neighbours, our friends, our allies, our partners and I very much hope we’ll seek the closest possible relationship in terms of trade and cooperation and security because that is good for us and good for them and that’ the spirit in which the discussions will be held today.’
Mr Cameron will not be involved in the official negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the EU after announcing his resignation minutes after he learned of his crushing defeat in last week’s referendum.
He reportedly asked his aides ‘why should I do the hard s***’ as he prepared his resignation speech and it will instead be the job of the next Prime Minister to oversee the negotiations with Brussels.
His successor is expected to be in place by September 2 at the latest, with Brexit champion Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May the current favourites to win the upcoming Conservative leadership contest.
TIME TO SHED SOME POUNDS, DAVE? CAMERON PATS HIS STOMACH AFTER MERKEL POINTS TO HIS MIDRIFF – AND WITH ONLY WEEKS TO GO UNTIL HE’S OUT OF A JOB, THE PM WILL SOON HAVE PLENTY OF TIME ON HIS HANDS
As David Cameron chatted with Angela Merkel at his last EU summit in Brussels today, the German Chancellor pointed to his midriff as if to give advice on what to do once he no longer has to attend endless gourmet dinners in Brussels
He’s only got a few more weeks to serve as Prime Minister and as he patted down his stomach today it appears David Cameron is looking forward to shedding the pounds accumulated in office.
As he chatted with Angela Merkel at his last EU summit in Brussels today, the German Chancellor pointed to his midriff as if to give advice on what to do once he no longer has to attend endless gourmet dinners in Brussels.
Ms Merkel has experience herself having struck sausage sandwiches and biscuits off her daily snack menu two years ago as part of a strict new dieting scheme.
She replaced the snacks with sticks of raw carrot and red and green pepper and the results soon showed as her figure slimmed significantly.
The Prime Minister will enjoy what is likely to be his last dinner with EU leaders tonight after announcing he is resigning. He will only serve as Prime Minister until September 9 at the latest, when his successor will be named.
Boris Johnson is the favourite to take over in Number 10 and it will be him who travels to Brussels for the monthly summit of the European Council.
Ms Merkel may have some tips for Mr Johnson too, who, as BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr remarked at the weekend, ‘needs to lose a little weight’.
The drawn-out, dinners – which usually consists of at least three courses – are rarely cater for leaders on a diet. For example, at a recent summit leaders sat down for a filet de biche, a fillet of doe deer in a Szechuan pepper jus with a parsnip mousse – and that was only the main course.
At a dinner tonight he faces the awkward task of explaining how he oversaw Britain’s shock decision to leave the EU last week but earlier he signalled his conciliatory approach as he declared: ‘We mustn’t be turning our backs on Europe’.
Mr Cameron, who will only serve as Prime Minister until September 9 at the latest, said Britain and the EU had a mutual interest in agreeing the best possible deal on trade, cooperation and security.
Gloating Fararge tells MEPs ‘you’ve never done a proper job in your lives’ – but EU chief Juncker hits back: ‘Why are you here?’
Nigel Farage was booed and heckled by EU lawmakers in Brussels this morning as he gloated about Britain’s historic vote to leave the EU last week.
The Ukip leader told fellow MEPs ‘you’re not laughing now’ and accused the EU of being ‘a political project in denial’.
As he stood up to speak to a hostile reception in the European Parliament building this morning, he joked: ‘Thank you for the warm welcome’ before telling them they were also ‘in denial’ about the euro crisis and immigration.
Earlier in the session he clashed with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who asked the Ukip leader: ‘Why are you here?’
But there was a moment of respite in the hostilities before the debate today when Mr Juncker embraced Mr Farge, but the Ukip leader looked uncomfortable as the European Commission president went in for a kiss.
There were intense clashes today in the European Parliament as Nigel Farage (pictured centre) faced furious MEPs after last week’s referendum result
Nigel Farage greeted European Commission President Juncker in the European Parliament this morning. Mr Juncker told the Ukip leader he was surprised to see him in Brussels after last week’s Brexit vote
As lawmakers applauded the EU chief as they met for crisis talks about the future of the EU following Britain’s decision to exit last week, the animated European Commission chief interrupted his address to hit out at Mr Farage.
Breaking off from his speech – delivered in French – Mr Juncker switched to English as he told Mr Farage: ‘That’s the last time you are applauding here…and to some extent I’m really surprised you are here.
‘You are fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favour of the exit. Why are you here?’ he asked.
Mr Farage provoked jeers from opposing MEPs as he tore into them in his short but punchy speech.
BRITAIN MUST TRIGGER ARTICLE 50 IMMEDIATELY, SAYS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Britain must trigger the formal process of withdrawing from the EU immediately, a resolution by the European Parliament demanded this morning.
MEPs voted on their preferred timing of Britain triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out the procedure for a member state cutting ties with Brussels.
The ‘will expressed by the people needs to be entirely and fully respected, starting with an immediate activation of Article 50,’ a resolution approved by MEPs at an emergency session said this morning.
It was voted by 395 in favour to 200 against, with 71 abstensions.
But it is up to the British government to invoke the so-called Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that starts the clock on two years to negotiate the terms of the exit.
The negotiation will have to negotiate a new set of arrangements in areas such as trade, justice and reciprocal visas.
The UK can leave earlier than that if terms are easily found.
But if there is no deal by the end of the time we will be outside without any special provisions – meaning much higher trade tariffs.
Instead we could try to force the EU to strike a deal without imposing a time limit – but that may depend on whether other states are willing to play ball.
European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has already warned that ‘deserters’ will not be treated kindly.
But leaders will have to navigate the whole process as they go because quitting the EU is an unprecedented move.
Only semi-independent Greenland has quit the EU before, and that was 30 years ago when the island had a population of just 56,000.
It can be argued that Algeria left too – when it stopped being part of France in the 1960s.
But having been a member for 43 years, the process of untangling Britain from the complex network of institutions in Brussels is likely to take the maximum two years.
If a new deal fails to be agreed in the time period, Britain’s trading relationship with the EU will revert to World Trade Organisation terms – seen as the most basic and the ones used for Russia’s trading relationship with Brussels.
He appealed for a ‘grownup and sensible attitude to how we negotiate a different relationship’ but added: ‘I know that virtually none of you have never done a proper job in your lives, or worked in business, or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job. But listen, just listen.
As MEPs broke out in uproar, European president Martin Schulz was forced to step in to appeal for calm.
He condemned Mr Farage for antagonising his long-standing opponents but told the heckling MEP to stop ‘behaving like Ukip’.
The embattled Mr Juncker has been heavily criticised throughout Europe for his part in Britain’s decision to cut ties with Brussels but used his address to a special session of the European Parliament to fight back.
Hitting back at calls for him to resign, he told MEPs he was going nowhere and pledged to continue fighting towards his goal of a federal Europe.
In a rare personal note, the 61-year-old former Luxembourg prime minister struck out at critics, notably in the German press but also among east European governments, who have called on him to stand down following the Brexit vote.
‘I am neither tired or sick, as the German papers say,’ he said. ‘I will fight to my last breath for a united Europe.’
But he admitted the EU must accept the result of Britain’s referendum.
‘We must respect British democracy and the way it has expressed its view,’ Mr Juncker said, drawing applause from the Ukip MEPs present.
Mr Juncker spoke from a desk next to that of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who followed the largely French and German speech with headphones and with a British flag planted in front of him.
Before the session began, Mr Farage had gone over to speak to Juncker. Both men appeared relaxed and as Farage made to leave, Juncker pulled him close and gave him an air-kiss on the cheek.
Mr Juncker said he would make no apology for being ‘sad’ at the result of the British vote – ‘I am not a robot,’ he said, ‘I am not a grey bureaucrat.’
He urged Britain to explain quickly what it wanted from the EU in terms of a new relationship but insisted he had told his staff to engage in no preliminary talks with British officials until London engages the two-year mechanism for leaving the EU.
‘No notification, no negotiation,’ he said.
In an extraordinary day in the normally dull European Parliament, Mr Farage was also accused of using ‘Nazi propaganda’ to win the referendum – a reference to the controversial poster showing a line of Syrian refugees along the Slovenian border last October.
The pro-Brexit poster told voters the ‘EU has failed us all,’ adding below: ‘We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders.’
It drew comparisons to an original poster shown in a BBC documentary showing refugees fleeing Nazi Germany with the words: ‘parasites undermining their host countries’.
Former Belgium prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, who now heads up the Liberals and Democrats for Europe group of MEPs in the Brussels Parliament, claimed the Brexit campaign had only succeeded because it was based on negativity and ‘lies’ on immigration.
Nigel Farage’s union flag was upside down (pictured) as he gloated about Britain’s decision to leave the EU in the European Parliament today
Nigel Farage (right) sits next to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) in a special session of the European Parliament today where leading European politicians discussed last week’s historic decision by British voters to quit the EU
In a bitter attack on Mr Farage today, he told him: ‘It’s my feeling that it’s not so much the choice they have made that is hard … what makes it so hard is the way it succeeded.
‘The absolutely negative campaign, the posters of Mr Farage showing refugees like in Nazi propaganda.
‘I was never told that it was possible that somebody in this house should do a thing like that.
‘The lies also on migration. The lies on ‘oh Turkey will join the union next week’. Or the lies on the £350m that should return immediately to the National Health Service. And now don’t go back to the National Health Service.
‘It’s that climate of fear that has been created, of negativism that has been created – that is the most shocking thing that has happened in Britain – not the choice of the people, because the choice of the people is democracy.’
Mr Verhofstadt also joked: ‘Finally we will be getting rid of the biggest waste in the EU budget – that we have paid for 17 years of your salary.’
Nigel Farage (pictured with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in the European Parliament today) told fellow MEPs ‘you’re not laughing now’ and accused the EU of being ‘a political project in denial’
Earlier in the session Nigel Farage (pictured right) clashed with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (left), who asked the Ukip leader: ‘Why are you here?’
Following Mr Juncker shortly afterwards, Mr Farage taunted MEPs by saying: ‘Isn’t it funny? When I came here 17 years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me – well I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?
‘The reason you’re so upset, you’re so angry, has been perfectly clear, from all the angry exchanges this morning.
‘You as a political project are in denial. You’re in denial that your currency is failing. Just look at the Mediterranean! As a policy to impose poverty on Greece and the Mediterranean you’ve done very well.’
He added: ‘You’re in denial over Mrs. Merkel’s call for as many people as possible to cross the Mediterranean – which has led to massive divisions between within countries and between countries.
‘The biggest problem you’ve got and the main reason the UK voted the way it did is because you have by stealth and deception, and without telling the truth to the rest of the peoples of Europe, you have imposed upon them a political union.’
WHO ARE THE KEY PLAYERS IN EUROPE WHO’LL DECIDE BRITAIN’S FUTURE? GERMANY, FRANCE AND HOLLAND ARE THE KEY NATIONS BUT BRUSSELS CHIEFS WILL PLAY EQUALLY CRUCIAL ROLE
David Cameron is in Brussels for what is likely to be his last European Council summit as UK Prime Minister. Here are the key players at the summit:
Angela Merkel, German chancellor. As leader of the EU’s biggest and richest member state, Mrs Merkel is used to getting her way in Brussels. Bitterly disappointed at the prospect of losing the UK, which Berlin sees as a free-market counterweight to France and the Mediterranean states. She has said there is no need to be ‘particularly nasty’ to the UK in Brexit negotiations. She has appealed for calm following last week’s Brexit vote but warned Britain it will not be able to ‘cherry-pick’ EU privileges during negotiations.
Francois Hollande, president of France. Facing a challenge in upcoming elections from populist National Front leader Marine le Pen, who was one of the few European politicians to acclaim the outcome of Thursday’s vote. Fearful of the consequences of prolonged political and economic instability, he has called for a swift conclusion to Brexit talks, saying: ‘Being responsible means not wasting time in engaging with the question of Britain’s departure and setting this new impulse we want to lend the new European Union.’
Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, the current holder of the European Council’s six-month rotating presidency. Facing calls at home for a ‘Nexit’ vote in the Netherlands. He has described the Leave vote in Britain as ‘disappointing’ and said it is important that a solution for the crisis is found ‘calmly and step by step’. Mr Rutte has publicly warned about rising Euroscepticism across the continent and has urged fellow leaders not to push Mr Cameron to trigger Article 50 before Britain is ready.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council. Former prime minister of Poland, now chairs meetings of the 28 – soon to be 27 – national heads of government of member states. Facing calls for his resignation from Polish political rivals, who accuse him of playing a ‘dark role’ in blocking meaningful reforms in Mr Cameron’s renegotiation. Before the referendum he warned Brexit might lead to the end of Western civilisation, although afterwards, he said the vote was a ‘historic moment’ but ‘not a moment for hysterical reactions’.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission and arch-federalist. Former Luxembourg prime minister and now the European Union’s top bureaucrat. David Cameron tried to block him from getting the job and then forced him to go through months renegotiating the UK’s membership, so some may forgive him for relishing the PM’s current discomfort. Wants talks on UK exit to begin immediately, saying: ‘It’s not an amicable divorce, but it was not exactly an intimate affair anyway.’
Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, is a fierce opponent to David Cameron and fought his demands for reforms. He will play a key role when it comes to the European Parliament having to approve the final deal with Britain, so British negotiators will have to tread carefully with the German politician – one of the biggest supporters of European federalism. Mr Schulz is devastated by Britain’s decision to quit but has appealed for ‘cool heads’ in the upcoming negotiation process. But he has helped cause division by leading demands for Britain to trigger Article 50 immediately.