Nicola Sturgeon said she is to appoint an expert panel to help her protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU as her Cabinet formally endorsed plans for a second independence referendum.
The First Minister said she would seek “immediate discussions” with Brussels in an attempt to maintain Scotland’s place in the EU.
In a statement delivered on the steps of Bute House, Ms Sturgeon also sought to reassure people that Scotland was a “stable and attractive” place to do business as the economy reels from Thursday’s Brexit vote.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Cabinet agreed that we will seek to enter into immediate discussions with the EU institutions and with other EU member states to explore all possible options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.
“In doing so, we are determined to draw on as much support and advice from across Scotland as possible and I can confirm today that over the next few days, I will establish an advisory panel comprising a range of experts who can advise me and the Scottish government on a number of important matters - legal, financial and diplomatic.
“It will also seek to encompass voices from across the political spectrum in Scotland and indeed different views on Scotland’s constitutional future.”
On the prospect of another independence referendum Ms Sturgeon said it was “very much on the table”.
She said: “To ensure that option is a deliverable one in the required timetable, steps will be taken now to ensure that the necessary legislation is in place. Cabinet this morning formally agreed that work.”
Ms Sturgeon said an “an intensive programme of engagement” with the business community, adding: “Scotland will continue to be an attractive and stable place to do business”.
The First Minister said she wanted to reassure EU citizens, who lived in Scotland, remained welcome.
“To that end, I will be inviting the Consul Generals of all EU member states to a summit here in Bute House over the next two weeks to discuss how we engage with their communities here and make clear how highly we value the contribution that they make to Scotland’s economy, to our society and to our culture,” the First Minister said.
“We will not be taking our eye off the ball of the day to day business of government. As Westminster is engulfed in political turmoil and as a vacuum of leadership develops, I want to make clear that Scotland is led by a stable and effective government.
“We are focused on making sure that Scotland’s interests are protected but we are also determined to continue our work and further improve our schools, our hospitals and our economy.”