Nicola Sturgeon has said a vote for the SNP would strengthen Scotland’s hand over Brexit and allow her to argue for a seat at the negotiating table.
The first minister was speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme ahead of the 8 June election.
The Scottish government wants Scotland to remain in the EU – and in particular the single market.
But the UK government insisted that Scotland would leave alongside the rest of the United Kingdom.
At the referendum last June voters in Scotland backed the UK remaining in the EU by 62% to 38%, but in the UK as a whole voters supported leaving by 52% to 48%.
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Ms Sturgeon, who is spearheading a campaign to retain the 56 Westminster seats won by the SNP in 2015, told BBC Scotland’s Gary Robertson that Prime Minister Theresa May had “dismissed out of hand” her proposals for Scotland to remain in the European single market.
She said: “What I am saying in this election is that we have an opportunity, by how we vote, to give those proposals democratic legitimacy.
“And, by voting for the SNP, to give me the ability to strengthen Scotland’s hands in those [Brexit] negotiations, get a seat at the negotiating table and argue for Scotland’s place in the single market.”
Scotland’s first minister went on to reiterate that if Scotland became independent then she would want the country to be a member of the EU.
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However, Ms Sturgeon accepted that it was “possible, not necessarily desirable” that for “a period” an independent Scotland would be in the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and European Economic Area (EEA).
She explained: “Because we as the Scottish government, the SNP, are not in charge of the Brexit process right now we don’t know exactly what that is going to be like, how that is going to unfold.
“So I was simply saying that there may be the prospect of a phased return for Scotland to the EU where we would be in Efta, the EEA, on an interim basis.”
Ms Sturgeon went on to say that the Common Fisheries Policy was “no longer fit for purpose”.
She said: “We have argued and continue to argue either for it to be scrapped or for fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.”
The politician said her party had been advocates for regionalising fishing policy and for taking a fresh look at the EU’s “open to all” approach to fishing waters.
Ms Sturgeon added that it was vital Scotland’s fishing industry could continue to have access to an international export market.
What matters to the SNP in this election – Brexit or Indyref2?
By BBC Scotland political correspondent Glenn Campbell
Nicola Sturgeon has sought to redefine the mandate that she is seeking in this UK general election.
It is, she said, “to demand a place for Scotland at the Brexit negotiating table and the inclusion of the case for our place in the single market in the negotiating remit”.
That is a “more immediate priority” than indyref2, Ms Sturgeon said.
The first minister demanded the power to hold another independence vote after Theresa May rejected her “compromise” proposals for a special deal to keep Scotland in the single market.
Now, she is arguing that the general election result could make the prime minister think again on that and, if so, presumably the demand for a Brexit-related independence vote would be withdrawn.
In the event that there is a second referendum, Ms Sturgeon has also said that the SNP may seek a “phased approach” to securing EU membership.
It is her clearest indication yet that if Scotland is already out of the EU, the SNP would initially seek Norway-style membership of the single market through EFTA and the EEA.
Ms Sturgeon was also questioned on her plans for the currency of an independent Scotland.
She said the “starting point” was the pound and not the Euro.
Ms Sturgeon added: “When we come to an independence referendum – if we come to an independence referendum – these issues will be subject to the greatest scrutiny.
“There is no rule that forces any member of the European Union to join the Euro, so that is simply a statement of fact that no country can be forced to join the Euro, but we are in a Westminster election campaign right now, not an independence referendum.
“The question for Scotland is do we send MPs to Westminster that are going to stand up for Scotland – and we face the prospect because of what is happening in England of a Tory government with a bigger majority.
“It is vital that we’ve got MPs that stand up for Scotland, fight Scotland’s corner and make Scotland’s voice heard. We have an opportunity in this election to strengthen, not Theresa May’s hand, but strengthen Scotland’s hand.”
Election 2017: Nicola Sturgeon wants seat at Brexit talks table}