Nicola Sturgeon Appoints Scottish Brexit Minister

Nicola Sturgeon
Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon outside Bute House, her official residence in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 6. Sturgeon has appointed a Scottish Brexit minister. Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed a Brexit minister to manage negotiations with the European Union as Britain begins the process of leaving.

Mike Russell, a former education secretary, was appointed, Sturgeon said, to make sure Scotland's voice is heard "loudly and clearly" during talks.

When Britain as a whole voted to leave the European Union on June 23, Scotland as a country voted to remain, by a margin of 62 to 38, with all 32 council areas backing continued membership.

Sturgeon has secured assurances from Prime Minister Theresa May that Scotland is to be fully involved in Brexit discussions, and that May will listen to any proposals for a new arrangement for Scotland brought to her.

Scotland is seeking to establish how it could maintain the closest possible relationship with the EU while Britain leaves, with some even hopeful that a new federal arrangement could see Scotland remain a member of the bloc and part of the United Kingdom.

Such an arrangement is likely to be politically tricky, however, and the strong possibility that Scotland will leave the EU despite its citizens having voted to remain has led Sturgeon to say that a second referendum on Scottish independence is "highly likely."

The Scottish government is preparing a bill that would allow Sturgeon to call a referendum if she decides to, though for it to be fully legally recognized she would also need approval from the U.K. government in Westminster.