Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she will ask for permission to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence in light of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
In a speech given ahead of the Article 50 bill arriving back in the House of Commons, the first minister of Scotland said she wanted the vote to be held between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.
Announcing her decision, Sturgeon said she feels as if the UK government is “moving further away from compromise”, with the language “becoming harder and harder”.
“In short, it’s not just our relationship with Europe that’s at stake. It’s the type of country that we’ll become,” she said.
Theresa May, who is looking to formally begin the process of leaving the EU as early as Tuesday, has been reluctant to say whether a second referendum would be approved.
However, May may try to prevent any referendum vote while the two-year negotiations to leave the EU are underway.
A minister close to the Brexit discussions told the Financial Times that a referendum was “looking inevitable”.
“I don’t think we’re in any position to stop it happening,” they added. Another source said: “The debate is only going to be about the date.”
The government will be fearful that any negative economic forecasts in light of Britain leaving the EU could galvanise the independence vote, and that Sturgeon may be able to weaken the UK’s bargaining position.
The source added that the UK would not want to “fight a war on two fronts”.
Whether or not Scotland could inherit the UK’s European Union membership remains to be seen, as experts have pointed to the fact there is no precedent, and that the EU wouldn’t want to encourage other separationists movements, such as that in Spain.
Jacqueline Minor, the European commission’s head of representation in the UK, has said Scotland would need to formally apply after leaving the UK.
She added it could be fast-tracked because it already complies with EU rules and regulations.
In last summer’s EU referendum, Scotland voted in favour of the UK staying in the EU by 62% to 38%, with all 32 council areas backing Remain.
Sturgeon has repeatedly warned that a “hard Brexit” — which would mean leaving the single market — would result in her pushing for a second Scottish independence referendum.
In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, support for Scottish independence spiked but has now levelled out.
JK Rowling, a high-profile No voter, said she was reassessing her decision after the UK government suggested a hard Brexit was likely.