Theresa May meeting Nicola Sturgeon for Brexit talks

Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh for talks on the future of the EU and the union.

Ms Sturgeon said she wanted to discuss options to protect Scottish interests, which she believes have been put “at risk” by the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Speaking before her visit, the PM vowed to fully engage with the Scottish government on Brexit negotiations.

Mrs May said her message was that the UK government was on the side of Scots.

‘Special union’

She said: “This visit to Scotland is my first as prime minister and I’m coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries.

“And I want to say something else to the people of Scotland too: the government I lead will always be on your side.

“Every decision we take, every policy we take forward, we will stand up for you and your family – not the rich, the mighty or the powerful.

“That’s because I believe in a union, not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens.”

The trip is Mrs May’s first official visit as prime minister and comes two days after she was formally appointed by the Queen.

Mrs May completed her first cabinet on Thursday, with leading Brexit campaigners Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis getting roles which will be crucial as the UK negotiates its withdrawal from the European Union – foreign secretary, international trade secretary, and “Brexit secretary” respectively.

The Scottish government is seeking a separate deal on relations with the EU after the Brexit vote – which the majority did not back in Scotland – a prospect dismissed by new UK Chancellor Philip Hammond.

‘Protect and defend’

But speaking to Reporting Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said she hoped she would encounter a prime minister who was “open minded and constructive” about the options for Scotland.

The first minister said she wanted to find ways to protect areas including trade, university research, the rights of workers and influence on global policy such as climate change.

She added: “For those who still believe in the UK I think the onus is on them to prove it can still protect and defend Scotland’s interests.

“Now, I am determined to find the best ways of protecting Scotland’s interests and I’m prepared to work to see if we can find options within the UK context and the UK process that will now take place to do that.

“I’ve been very open that it may well be that if we want to protect those interests the best or the only option will be to consider whether we want to become an independent country.

“That’s a decision that Scotland would have to take if we get there, but I’m open to examining all options.”

In addition to her visit to Scotland, Mrs May is likely to continue to appoint junior ministers.

Her first cabinet saw the departures of Chancellor George Osborne, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb.

Just four cabinet positions have stayed in the same hands: Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns and Scottish Secretary David Mundell.