Nicola Sturgeon has said there are ‘big, complex issues’ to look at before extending the Borders railway down to Hawick and on to Carlisle.
Appearing in Hawick to campaign with Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk SNP candidate Calum Kerr, the First Minister met with local activists on the footbridge opposite Hawick Library.
During a previous visit to Hawick in 2016, while campaigning for the 2016 Holyrood election, Ms Sturgeon promised a full feasibility study into extending the Borders railway on to Carlisle.
When asked why that study has not materialised, the First Minister said: “We’re still intending to look at this in detail. There are some big, complex issues around that, but the aspiration that we have is one that we still hold to, and we want to make sure we consider these issues properly and carefully.”
Later, when pressed for more detail, she said: “As I said earlier on, that is an aspiration we hold to, there are complex issues there, it’s important we consider all of the issues carefully and fully and that’s what we’ll do.”
SNP policy is for an independent Scotland to join the EU. Asked how a hard border, necessitated by the rest of the UK leaving the EU, would affect residents of the Scottish Borders, she said: “It is not my policy to have borders. I want to see free trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK, it’s important to Scotland and it’s important to the rest of the UK, but I want Scotland to also be able to trade freely within the single market, which is eight times the size of the UK market.
“It’s the Tories that are threatening borders and that’s one of the reasons why I will continue to argue that the UK should stay within the single market and the customs union, so there is nothing in what I am proposing that makes borders inevitable.”