SPERI held its 2016 Annual Lecture last night in the Octagon Centre at the University of Sheffield. Nicola Sturgeon, MSP and First Minister of Scotland, addressed an audience of over 1000 people and spoke to her theme which was: ‘Scotland and the UK: Economic Policy after the EU Referendum’.
In her lecture, the First Minister reiterated her determination to defend the interest of the people of Scotland in all of the forthcoming discussions relating to Brexit.
A majority of Scottish voters had preferred to ‘Remain’ in the European Union, although she said she was also alert to the perspectives of the minority in Scotland who had voted ‘Leave’. Nevertheless, she would oppose any form of ‘hard Brexit’ which involved the UK leaving the European Single market.
The First Minister also explained some of her own government’s economic policies, based on a mutual commitment to inclusive growth and international competitiveness.
She argued that the EU referendum result derived in good part from the politics of austerity of the previous and current UK government. She quoted SPERI’s previous annual lecturer in 2015, Lord Robert Skidelsky, to argue that ‘austerity had failed’.
The lecture was followed by a lively period of questions and answers. These exchanges were notable for Nicola Sturgeon’s indication that she would find it hard to imagine SNP MPs at Westminster voting for Article 50. She also spoke strongly in favour of immigration, noting that migrants working in the UK were honouring the country by their presence and contribution to society.
All in all, the evening was a great occasion for SPERI, the University of Sheffield and indeed the city and people of Sheffield.
The event was livestreamed and can be watched again below:
The full text of her talk has been published on the SNP website here.