Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon took to the stage in the Octagon Theatre at the University Sheffield last night for the annual SPERI conference.
1200 people watched Mrs Sturgeon address issues including Brexit, Scottish Independence and various economic issues facing both Scotland and England.
Mrs Sturgeon opened with an anecdote about how Mary Queen of Scots had actually spent more of her life in Sheffield than she had in Scotland, before saying “Admittedly, she didn’t have much choice – she was in prison for all of those 14 years!”, which brought much laughter.
Directly addressing the audience, she said: “The Scottish Government will do everything we can to influence the UK Government’s approach to Brexit.”
She also admitted that current Brexit negotiations with the Government were “less enlightening than she would have liked”.
Scotland voted against leaving the European Union by 62% to 38% and this has led to calls for a second Scottish Independence referendum.
However, Mrs Sturgeon said that initiating a second referendum was not a starting point. She said she wanted to “find the best way for Scotland to retain the benefits of EU membership” and to secure, as far as possible, “the outcome Scotland voted for in June.”
Former leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, also made an appearance at the speech, asking the First Minister a question from the crowd.
Mrs Sturgeon warmly greeted the former leader, referencing the group hug she had with her and Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood after a 2015 General Election debate.
In her closing words, Mrs Sturgeon said: “We still have a huge amount more to do to build the economy and the society that we want to see. But we are making progress towards achieving stronger, more sustainable and more inclusive growth.”
Image courtesy of the Scottish government.