Scotland is in a "strong position" to veto the UK's exit from the European Union, according to first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Sturgeon met the new prime minister, Theresa May, on Friday, after which May said she would not begin the process of leaving the EU until there was "a UK approach" to negotiations.
Asked on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday whether that meant the Scottish government effectively has a veto over the triggering of Article 50, Sturgeon didn't answer directly but said it left Scotland in a "very, very strong" position.
"[Scotland having a veto] certainly appeared to be an interpretation that some put on the prime minister’s remarks after the meeting," said Sturgeon. "Certainly, from what she said after the meeting, I think that puts Scotland now in a very, very strong position and puts me in a strong position.
"Of course it puts a responsibility on my shoulders to think through what the options are. We’ve already started that work to see if we can bring forward options that effectively square this circle."
Over 60% of voters in Scotland opted to stay within the EU in last month's referendum, which has led to Sturgeon seeking to "protect" Scotland's EU membership.
Less than a week after the UK voted to leave the EU, Sturgeon flew to Brussels to meet with European leaders for discussions on how to maintain Scotland's EU membership.
Among the options open to her, she said, are stopping the UK leaving the EU, Scotland staying within the UK and the EU, or Scotland becoming independent and becoming a member of the EU.
Asked if there could be a way for Scotland to stay within the UK and the EU, while England and Wales left the EU, Sturgeon said: "My position is [that] there might be.
"We’re in uncharted territory and when you’re in uncharted territory with effectively a blank sheet of paper in front of you then you have an opportunity to try to think things that might have previously been unthinkable and shape the future."
Sturgeon said leaving the EU would be damaging for Scottish jobs, universities, and workers' rights, and she would go on to explore every available option to avoid any negative effects of Brexit on Scotland.
"Scotland didn’t vote for any of those consequences; we voted by a significant margin to avoid those consequences and to stay in," said Sturgeon. "That gives me a mandate to seek to protect that relationship we have with the EU. That’s what I’m going to try to do.
"If it’s not possible to do that within the UK then I’ve been very clear that of course the option of a second independence referendum is one that has to be on the table."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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