Scottish election 2021: Does Nicola Sturgeon want a hard border with England?

Nicola Sturgeon on hopes for Scotland to 'trade freely' with EU

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The SNP is still leading in the polls, with elections in Scotland just weeks away. Nicola Sturgeon is up for reelection as the country’s First Minister and has hailed next month’s race as a decider for the future of Scottish independence. A majority would bring her one significant step towards her goal but leave her with many questions to answer.

Does Nicola Sturgeon want a hard border with England?

As Scotland seeks to gain independence with Ms Sturgeon at the helm, one of the core questions is whether the country would adopt a hard border.

In effect, a hard border would mean authorities erect a wall or other barrier between England and Scotland with checkpoints for people leaving and arriving.

Hard borders have heightened tensions between some neighbouring countries in the past, and premiers often favour them as a method to physically assert their presence.

But Ms Sturgeon has voiced her opposition to any future borders between her country and England.

Speaking at a media briefing today, she revealed hopes to prevent “any trade friction” between the two nations.

She said: “As a general issue, borders are one of the questions people have about independence.

“I don’t want any trade friction between Scotland and England or vice versa. We would work to avoid that.”

“Of course, the government in Westminster is one that says that trade friction can be completely ironed out in Northern Ireland, which is still effectively in the Single Market.

“These things can be dealt with, I believe, so businesses don’t suffer any practical difficulties.”

Ms Sturgeon’s vision for independence is multifaceted, and she anticipates a European Scotland.

Scottish residents voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in 2016, and a core pillar of the First Minister’s platform is to honour this.

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As a member of the EU, Scotland may have to hammer out new border arrangements with non-EU member England.

Speaking to Andrew Marr, she acknowledged the country might have to establish a hard border.

The EU would require Scotland to erect physical inspection posts for live animals, poultry, eggs, milk and fish entering the single market.

However, the First Minister continued to signal her opposition to establishing one, supporting “free-flowing” trade.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We will put in place arrangements and we will negotiate those arrangements for the UK that means that businesses do not, in a practical sense, suffer from any of that.”

She added: “I am not denying what the EU regulations say.

“I’m not denying that because of the absurdity of Brexit…all sorts of issues are raised for Scotland completely against our democratic will.

“What I’m saying is we will work as a country to make sure that, for our businesses, there are no difficulties in terms of their day-to-day experience in trading.”

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