Juncker to Meet Scottish Leader After Brexit

Juncker to Meet Scottish Leader After BrexitJuncker to Meet Scottish Leader After Brexit

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a dash to Brussels on Wednesday to tell the EU that Scots were intent on staying in the bloc, hours after David Cameron told a summit that Britain was pulling out.

“This is very much an initial meeting, a series of meetings in Brussels today, so that people understand that Scotland, unlike other parts, of the United Kingdom does not want to leave the European Union,” Sturgeon told reporters after meeting European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Reuters reported.

“I don’t want to underestimate the challenges that lie ahead.” Schulz said he had “listened and learned”. Later in the day, the pro-independence Scottish leader will meet the head of the EU executive, European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and may try to probe the—hitherto flimsy—options a breakaway Scotland might have to somehow remain in the European Union once the United Kingdom completes its Brexit.

Juncker’s decision to roll out the red carpet for her on the day the 27 other EU leaders held their first meeting without Britain was seen by some diplomats as an attempt to pressure London to hand in its formal notice to quit.

There were no immediate plans for Sturgeon to meet the national leaders still gathered at the summit after Cameron left overnight and European Council President Donald Tusk, the summit chairman, pointedly declined her request to meet him.

There has been a surge in sympathy around Europe for the 5.5 million Scots after nearly two-thirds of them voted in last week’s UK referendum to stay in the EU, only to see the English, ten times more numerous, vote 52-48% for Brexit. But EU officials have stressed, as they did before Scots voted against independence in a referendum in 2014, that Scotland could not apply to, let alone join, the EU until it had become a sovereign state. Senior officials have dismissed the notion that Scotland could take over the empty British chair at the European Council table.