02.08.2019

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon Discusses Brexit

As the deadline for the UK leaving the EU fast approaches, the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is in the unusual position of seeing the country she leads being dragged out of the EU, despite Scottish people favouring remaining in the union. She speaks with Michel Martin in New York about Brexit, as well as her own – so far unrealized – desire for Scotland’s independence from the UK.

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WE TURN NEXT TO A SMALL NATION CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ENORMOUS TUG OF WAR.

AND TO THE WOMAN LEADING THE DEFENSE.

SHE IS NICOLA STURGEON, FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND, ONE OF A HANDFUL OF FEMALE HEADS OF GOVERNMENT AROUND THE WORLD.

SINCE THE U.K.

VOTED FOR BREXIT BACK IN 2016, SCOTLAND HAS BEEN CAUGHT UP IN THIS CRISIS AGAINST ITS WILL.

IT VOTED OVERWHELMINGLY TO STAY IN THE EU.

NICOLA STURGEON HAS BEEN A LEADING VOICE FOR A SECOND REFERENDUM AND IS DOING EVERYTHING TO MAKE SURE HER ECONOMY SURVIVES BREXIT AND THAT MISSION HAS BROUGHT HER TO THE UNITED STATES WHERE BREXIT IS AN ONGOING TOPIC OF FASCINATION AND SOME CONFUSION.

OUR MICHEL MARTIN CAUGHT UP WITH STURGEON IN NEW YORK.

S.

FIRST MINISTER, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

IT'S LOVELY TO BE HERE.

MOST AMERICANS KNOW THAT SCOTLAND HAS A LONG AND FRUITFUL, CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES BOTH CULTURALLY, ECONOMICALLY AND LOTS OF OVER WAYS -- OTHER WAYS.

I WONDER IF THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE TONE OF THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION THAT CONCERNS YOU.

YOU PROBABLY HEARD SOME OF THE PRESIDENT'S STATE OF THE UNION.

I DID.

HE TALKED ABOUT PUTTING AMERICA'S INTERESTS FIRST AND I WONDER IF THERE'S SOMETHING THAT CONCERNS YOU THAT YOU NEED TO ADDRESS WHILE YOU'RE HERE.

I THINK IT'S NO SECRET THAT I'M NOT ALIGNED POLITICALLY WITH THE CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

WE DISAGREE AND DIFFER ON MANY THINGS.

BUT AS YOU SEE, SCOTLAND AND THE U.S.

HAVE A VERY STRONG AND LONG-STANDING RELATIONSHIP.

AND THAT RELATIONSHIP ENDURES REGARDLESS OF WHO OCCUPIES THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OR FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND.

I SUPPOSE THE TIMING OF MY VISIT HAS MORE TO DO WITH THE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE U.K., BREXIT IS AN ISSUE THAT IS OCCUPYING MUCH OF OUR THINKING.

AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD KNOWS THAT WITHSTANDING BREXIT, SCOTLAND WANTS TO MAKE SURE OTHER COUNTRIES TO KNOW THEY ARE OPEN AND WELCOMING AND THEY WANT TO ATTRACT STROIFRTS LIVE AND WORK IN OUR COUNTRY.

ONE REASON SOME AMERICANS ARE INTERESTED IN BREXIT, APART FROM ALL THE OBVIOUS, IS THAT THEY SAW THIS AS A PRECURSOR TO WHAT HAPPENED IN THE UNITED STATES WITH THE RISE OF DONALD TRUMP AS PRESIDENT.

WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ABOUT WHAT LED TO BREXIT?

I THINK SOME OF THE FACTORS BEHIND BREXIT ARE PROBABLY THE SAME FACTORS THAT PERHAPS WERE BEHIND THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP AS PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.

OBVIOUSLY THEY'RE DIFFERENT SI SITUATIONS, BUT THE BREXIT VOTE IRONICALLY WASN'T ENTIRELY TO DO WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE U.K.

MEMBERSHIP OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.

MANY PEOPLE WHO VOTED TO LEAVE THE EU VERY VOTING AGAINST THE STATUS QUO BECAUSE THERE'S UNDERSTANDING CONCERN IN THE U.K.

ABOUT RISING LEVELS OF INEQUALITY AND POVERTY, PEOPLE FEELING AS OF THE STATUS QUO IS NOT SERVING THEY WILL WELL.

THAT SOMETIMES MANIFESTS ITSELF WITH IMMIGRATION.

SOME OF THOSE SAME FACTORS PLAYED IN THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP.

YOU'VE BEEN BLUNT ABOUT SAYING THE U.K.

ISN'T READY, THE MAY GOVERNMENT IS NOT READY TO MEET IN THIS DEADLINE.

THE PROOIFRMS SHOULD ASK EUROPEAN FOR AN EXTENSION OF THE DEADLINE.

AFTER TWO AND A HALF YEARS, SHE AND HER GOVERNMENT HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY INCAPABLE OF COMING UP WITH A PLAN TO LEAVE THE EU IN AN ORDERLY, WELL-MANAGED FASHION.

SO THE RISK NOW IS THAT WE LEAVE AT THE END OF MARCH WITH NO AGREEMENT IN PLACE, AND THAT WOULD HAVE QUITE CATASTROPHIC EFFECTS FOR ALMOST EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE IN THE U.K.

EVEN IF AN AGREEMENT IS STRUCK, WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO DO ALL OF THE PRACTICAL THINGS TO PUT THAT AGREEMENT INTO EFFECT.

IN MY VIEW, HOW TO LEAVE THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE U.K., THEY SHOULD PUT THEIR SHOES BACK TO THE PEOPLE IN THE REFERENDUM.

IT'S MY UNDERSTANDING WE'VE ASKED WHETHER -- IT APPEARS THAT IT'S NOT SO MUCH THAT THERE'S BUYER'S REMORSE, THAT PEOPLE WHO WERE AGAINST IT ARE STILL AGAINST IT, EVEN MORE THAN AGAINST IT NOW.

SO WHAT WOULD ANOTHER REFERENDUM ACCOMPLISH.

THERE'S TRUTH IN WHAT YOU JUST SAID.

THE OPINION POLLS WOULD SUGGEST THAT OPINION IS STILL EVENLY BALANCED.

ALTHOUGH THEY WOULD ALSO SUGGEST IF THERE WAS ANOTHER REFERENDUM, THE OUTCOME PROBABLY WOULD BE TO REMAIN IN THE EU.

AND I GUESS IN ANOTHER REFERENDUM YOUNG PEOPLE WHO BY AND LARGE WANTED TO STAY IN THE EU MIGHT BE MORE LIKELY TO VOTE.

THE ARGUMENT IS THAT PEOPLE ARE BETTER EDUCATED NOW THAN THEY WERE BEFORE.

IRONICALLY.

A BIT OF BOTH.

PEOPLE ARE MORE AWARE AND OTHERS ARE UNDOUBTEDLY MORE INFORMED ABOUT THE DOWNSIDES.

PEOPLE HAVE SEEN THE MESS OF BREXIT SINCE THE VOTE.

I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANY ROOM FOR COMPLACENCY.

YOU HAVE TO MAKE A CASE AND YOU HAVE TO TWWIN THAT CASE.

I IRONICALLY PEOPLE ARE MUCH MORE INFORMED NOW THAN THEY WERE BEFORE THEY VOTED.

PEOPLE MAY REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A REFERENDUM ON INDEPENDENCE AND SCOTLAND VOTED AGAINST IT.

IT WAS A VERY SPIRITED DEBATE.

I DON'T KNOW IF CAMPAIGN WAS THE RIGHT WORD.

UNLIKE THE BREXIT VOTE, PEOPLE REALLY GOT INTO THE ISSUES BEFORE THE VOTE.

SO PEOPLE VOTED KNOWING ALL THE IN HIS AND OUTS AND THE PROS AND CONS.

THAT'S MY UNDERSTANDING THAT PART OF THE REASON PEOPLE VOTED AGAINST IT WAS THEY WANTED O STAY WITHIN THE EU.

IRONICALLY, IN THE INDEPENDENCE CAMPAIGN, ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS MADE BY THOSE WHO WERE AGAINST INDEPENDENCE WAS IF SCOTLAND VOTED TO BE INDEPENDENT, WE WOULD BE VOTED OUT OF THE EU AND WE WOULD HAVE TO REPLY FOR MEMBERSHIP.

THAT DID SCARE SOME PEOPLE.

HERE WE ARE FOUR YEARS LATER BECAUSE WE'RE NOT INDEPENDENT, WE'VE BEEN TAKEN OUT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.

THAT UNDOUBTEDLY BRINGS THE ISSUE OF INDEPENDENCE BACK TO THE FORE IN MANY PEOPLE'S MINDS.

WE ARE IN THIS POSITION BECAUSE WE'RE NOT INDEPENDENT.

62% OF PEOPLE IN SCOTLAND VOTED TO STAY IN THE EU.

SO THAT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT THAT SCOTLAND FACES HAS BEEN PART OF THE U.K.

UNDOUBTEDLY MAKES MANY PEOPLE WANT TO LOOK AGAIN AT THE ISSUE OF SCOTLAND BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

ARE YOU LOOKING AGAIN AT THE PROSPECT OF ANOTHER REFERENDUM ON SCOTTISH INDEPENDENTS?

I THINK THERE WILL BE ANOTHER INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM TO BE D.

OBVIOUSLY THERE'S A LOT OF CONCERN ABOUT THE BREXIT PROCESS.

AS FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND, I SAID I WOULD SET OUT MY VIEW ONCE WE SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.

I'M PRESSING THE QUESTION BECAUSE IT SOUNDS TO ME YOU'RE SAYING SCOTLAND HAS HAD ENOUGH.

SO NO MATTER WHAT BRITAIN DECIDES TO DO, SCOTLAND WANTS TO BE INDEPENDENT NOW BECAUSE YOU'VE SEEN THE MOST NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES.

SURE.

EVEN POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES IS ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE TO SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

I THINK THERE WILL BE ANOTHER -- I THINK THERE SHOULD BE ANOTHER INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM.

I'M NOT YET CERTAIN OF EXACTLY WHAT THAT SHOULD HAPPEN.

BECAUSE RIGHT NOW A FEW WEEKS FROM BREXIT WE DON'T KNOW WHETHER THE U.K.

WILL LEAVE WITH A DEAL OR WITHOUT A DEAL OR NOT AT ALL.

THERE COULD BE ANOTHER GENERAL ELECTIONS IN THE U.K.

BECAUSE OF THIS CHAOS.

SO I THINK WE NEED TO JUST WAIT AND SEE A LITTLE BIT WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN BEFORE I COME FOR A VIEW ON INDEPENDENCE.

DO YOU THINK IN THREE YEARS, FIVE, THAT SCOTLAND WILL BE APPLYING TO THE EU AS AN INDEPENDENT NATION?

I WOULD LOVE TO THINK SO, AND I THINK IT WILL.

I'M NOT GOING TO PUT A PARTICULAR TIME FRAME ON IT, BUT IN THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE SCOTLAND WILL BE AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY AND WILL LOOK TO JOIN THE EU AS AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY AND TAKE A SEAT FROM THE UNITED NATIONS.

I JUST WANT TO ASK ABOUT YOU.

YOU BELONGED TO THAT SMALL CLUB OF WOMEN, HEADS OF GOVERNMENT, THE LEGISLATIVE BODY IN THE UNITED STATES ELECTED THE LARGEST NUMBER OF WOMEN SERVING FOR THE FIRST TIME.

STILL A TINY MINORITY, NOWHERE NEAR HALF.

GENDER EQUALITY HAS BEEN AN ISSUE FOR YOU.

YOU'LL BE AMPLIFYING THIS ISSUE ON THE WORLD STAGE.

I WANTED TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE SOME SORT OF CORE PRINCIPLES FOR HOW YOU PURSUE THIS QUESTION AS A HEAD OF STATE.

WHAT I WOULD SAY AND HOW I COME AT THIS ISSUE IS SHIFTING PEOPLE'S MIND-SET ON IT.

INSTEAD OF SEEING EFFORTS TO SUPPORT WOMEN INTO LEADERSHIP POSITIONS ACROSS ALL SECTION OF SOCIETY, THE WE SHOULD ACTUALLY LOOK AT IT FROM THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

UNLESS YOU TAKE THE VIEW, HOPEFULLY NOT MANY PEOPLE DO, THAT WOMEN ARE SOMEHOW LESS CAPABLE OF BEING IN SENIOR POSITIONS, THEN ANY ORGANIZATION, WHETHER IT'S GOVERNMENT OR A COMPANY OR PUBLIC ORGANIZATION THAT DOESN'T HAVE GENDER DIVERSITY AND EQUAL REPRESENTATION IS OBVIOUSLY DOING SOMETHING WRONG BECAUSE THERE MUST BE BAD EARS TO WOMEN PROGRESSING AND I'M A GREAT BELIEVER WE SHOULD ALL LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

AS YOU SEE, TWO FEMALE HEADS OF GOVERNMENT, I HAVE A GENDER-BALANCED CABINET AND WE ENCOURAGE ALL ORGANIZATIONS ACROSS SCOTLAND TO TAKE ACTION.

AND THE OTHER THING THAT WE REALLY NEED TO, I THINK, ENCOURAGE UNDERSTANDING, THIS IS NOT SOMETHING TO DO JUST BECAUSE IT'S GOOD FOR WOMEN AND IT'S FAIR FOR WOMEN.

ALL OF THE EVIDENCE NOW SAYS THAT COMPANIES, ORGANIZATIONS, GOVERNMENTS THAT HAVE GREATER DIVERSITY AND GREATER REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN THEIR DECISION MAKING PERFORM BETTER.

SO THERE'S A REALLY HARD REASON TO WANT GENDER EQUALITY AS WELL.

THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAS IT AS SOCIAL ENGINEERING.

I KNOW THERE'S A LOT OF RESISTANCE IN THIS COUNTRY.

SURELY TO HAVE A SOCIETY WHERE WOMEN ARE SO UNDERREPRESENTED, THAT'S SOCIAL ENGINEERING GOING ON FOR GENERATIONS.

WE WANT TO UTILIZE THE TALENT OF ALL OUR POPULATION, NOT HALF.

WOMEN ARE AS CAPABLE OF BEING GOVERNMENT LEADERS, HEADS OF BUSINESSES AS MEN ARE.

SO THE FACT THAT WE HAVE THIS INEQUALITY BETWEEN THE GENDERS, THAT'S A SIGN THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG, IT'S NOT EFFORTS TO ADDRESS THAT THAT ARE SOCIAL ENGINEERING, THAT'S ABOUT WHAT WOMEN FACE.

THIS IS A SENSITIVE SUBJECT AND WEIR NOT GOING TO LITIGATE IT HERE.

YOUR PREDECESSOR AS FIRST MINISTER WAS ACCUSED OF VERY SERIOUS MISCONDUCT WHEN IT COMES TO HIS RELATIONSHIPS WITH WOMEN.

BUT YOUR ROLE IN THIS HAS BEEN CRITICIZED.

I KNOW YOU HAD MEETINGS WITH HIM WHILE THIS MATTER WAS BEING INVESTIGATED.

IS THAT LEADING BY EXAMPLE?

I CAN'T GO INTO DETAIL BECAUSE IT'S A CRIMINAL PROCEEDING.

BUT WHAT I'VE ALWAYS SOUGHT TO ACT ON AS WELL AS TALK ABOUT IS THE FACT THAT NOBODY SHOULD BE GIVEN SPECIAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF THE SENIORITY OF THE POSITION.

WE'RE SITTING HERE TALKING ABOUT THIS IN ITSELF AS EVIDENCE THAT IT WASN'T SIMPLY BRUSHED UNDER THE CARPET BECAUSE OF THE IDENTITY OF THE PERSON INVOLVED.

AND THAT'S WHAT I THINK IS IMPORTANT.

I CAN'T GO INTO THE DETAIL OF ANY OF THIS BECAUSE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCE, BUT NOBODY SHOULD BE ABOVE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THESE ISSUAES.

WHEN COMPLAINTS COME FORWARD, THEY MUST BE TREATED AND INVESTIGATED PROPERLY.

THAT'S AN IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE I ADVOCATE AND ALWAYS WILL.

DO YOU FEEL AS A WOMAN LEADER YOURSELF, AND ONE OF THE VERY FEW THAT YOU HAVE SOME SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY?

WHAT IS YOUR SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY WHEN IT COMES TO THAT?

I THINK TO SAY SPEAK UP AND ENSURE THAT WOMEN ARE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AND THAT WOMEN ARE NOT AUTOMATICALLY DISBELIEVED AND THAT WE HAVE SYSTEMS IN PLACE THAT ALLOW CONCERNS TO BE DEALT WITH.

IF WE FALL SHORT ON THOSE, TO ADDRESS THAT AND MAKE SURE WE GET IT RIGHT IN THE FUTURE.

AS A WOMAN I FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT THESE ISSUES, AND I FEEL A RESPONSIBILITY ON THESE ISSUES.

BUT IT CAN'T JUST BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF WOMEN.

OFTEN WE TALK ABOUT THE BEHAVIOR AND THE CONDUCT OF MEN, AND MEN HAVE TO TAKE OWNERSHIP AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT AS WELL.

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT I THINK WE SHOULDN'T FORGET

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPEAKING TO US.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Spike Lee about his film “BlacKkKlansman,” his career and the racist controversies surrounding Virginia politics and Liam Neeson. Author Leila Slimani discusses her new book and the rise of populism and extremism in France. Michel Martin speaks with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon about Brexit.

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