Scotland politics

Sturgeon's Standing Council on Europe has held first meeting

The Standing Council on Europe

A group of experts set up to advise the Scottish government in the aftermath of the Brexit vote has met for the first time in Edinburgh.

The Standing Council on Europe is made up of 18 legal, economic and diplomatic specialists.

It was established by Nicola Sturgeon after the UK opted to leave the EU despite 62% of Scots voting to remain.

Its chairman Professor Anton Muscatelli said it would look at how best to secure Scotland's place in the EU.

When the first minister announced she was setting up the standing council last month she said it would consider the impact of proposed changes to the UK's relationship with the EU on Scottish interests.

It will also advise ministers on the best way to secure Scottish interests and objectives during negotiations.

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Media captionProfessor Anton Muscatelli is leading the team of legal, economic and diplomatic specialists

Ahead of the first meeting Prof Muscatelli, who is Glasgow University's principal and vice chancellor, told BBC Scotland: "As you can imagine there will be a range of issues we will want to discuss.

"They range from the impact of Brexit on the Scottish economy and society, but it's also how best we can secure Scotland's place in the EU given the decision on Brexit.

"Also, in the run up to any Article 50 invocation, but also after, to offer the best advice to government, also to be able to influence the outcome in a way that suits Scotland best."

The group's chairman said it would have to consider "a range of scenarios" as a result of the EU referendum.

He added: "I think our purpose is to be as wide ranging as possible, to provide very high level advice.

"We have a fantastic group of experts around the table - financial, legal, diplomatic, constitutional - so that we can actually provide best advice in a variety of different spheres."

Ms Sturgeon has said her priority following the Brexit vote is to "protect Scotland's place in Europe".

As Theresa May officially took up her new role on Thursday, the Scottish first minister stressed that her message to the new PM was to respect the "differing views of Scotland" on EU membership.

In her first address outside 10 Downing Street, Mrs May said the word "unionist" was very important to her.

She added: "It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

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