Nicola Sturgeon to pull trigger on second Scottish independence referendum

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she plans to trigger another independence referendum.

The First Minister said Scottish people must be given a choice between independence and ‘hard’ Brexit – and that the new referendum should be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

That could see a second independence vote take place as early as autumn 2018 – just four years on from when Scots voted by 55% to 45% to stay part of the United Kingdom.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans to hold a second Scottish independence referendum (PA)

Speaking at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, she said: “In my view it is important that Scotland is able to exercise the right to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now, but before it is too late to decide our own path.”

A UK Government spokesman responded to the announcement, saying that a second Scottish independence referendum would be “divisive” and “cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time”.


He added: “Only a little over two years ago people in Scotland voted decisively to remain part of our United Kingdom in a referendum which the Scottish Government defined as a ‘once in a generation’ vote.

“The evidence clearly shows that a majority of people in Scotland do not want a second independence referendum. Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.

MORE: The campaign for Scottish independence has begun – and here is the website
MORE: Scottish independence: What polls say about Sturgeon’s bid for second referendum

“The Scottish Government should focus on delivering good government and public services for the people in Scotland.”

Announcing her plans on the week that Article 50 is expected to be triggered, the SNP leader added: “It is clear that our voice and our interests can be ignored at any time and at any issue.

 

Scotland voted not to break up from the UK in 2014 (Rex)

“This is where we stand today… I cannot pretend to the Scottish people that a compromise agreement looks remotely likely…

“I will now take the steps necessary to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process. A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit or to become an independent country.”

MORE: Scottish people do NOT want a second referendum, Downing Street says
MORE: Mhairi Black is considering quitting ‘depressing’ Westminster – she won’t be missed

She added: “The Scottish government’s mandate for offering this choice is beyond doubt.”

Ms Sturgeon said she would go to Holyrood next week and “seek the authority of the Scottish Parliament to agree with the UK Government the details of a section 30 order – the procedure that will enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for an independence referendum”.

Since the UK vote to leave the European Union, Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said a second independence referendum is “highly likely”.

A poll suggested most Scottish voters are against holding a new referendum (PA)

Scots voted 62% to 38% to remain the EU while the UK as a whole voted to leave.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The timing of the Brexit negotiations are not within the control of the Scottish Government.

“However, we must plan on the basis of what we do know now and what we know is that on the timetable set out by the Prime Minister, the shape of the Brexit deal will become clear in the autumn of next year ahead of ratification votes by other EU countries.

“That is therefore the earliest point at which a referendum would be appropriate.”


Ms Sturgeon had called for Scotland to be given a “differentiated deal” which would see the country remain part of the European single market through membership of the European Economic Area, but said the UK Government has refused to compromise.

She said Theresa May and the UK Government had been given “every opportunity” to compromise but had “not moved even an inch”.

The First Minister said appeals have been met with a “brick wall of intransigence”.

Nicola Sturgeon said a new independence referendum could take place as early as 2018 (Rex)

A UK Government spokesman responded to the announcement, saying that a second Scottish independence referendum would be “divisive” and “cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time”.

He added: “Only a little over two years ago people in Scotland voted decisively to remain part of our United Kingdom in a referendum which the Scottish Government defined as a ‘once in a generation’ vote.

MORE: How will a second Scottish independence referendum affect Brexit?
MORE: EU says independent Scotland would have to join the queue to apply for membership

“The evidence clearly shows that a majority of people in Scotland do not want a second independence referendum. Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.

“The Scottish Government should focus on delivering good government and public services for the people in Scotland.”

The government said a second independence referendum would be “divisive” (Rex)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed Labour’s intention to oppose a second referendum in the Scottish Parliament, but would not seek to block it in Westminster if the idea is backed by Holyrood.

He said: “The 2014 Scottish independence referendum was billed as a once in a generation event.
“The result was decisive and there is no appetite for another referendum.

“Labour believes it would be wrong to hold another so soon and Scottish Labour will oppose it in the Scottish Parliament.

“If, however, the Scottish Parliament votes for one, Labour will not block that democratic decision at Westminster.

“If there is another referendum, Labour will oppose independence because it is not in the interests of any part of the country to break up the UK.”

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour would not block a second referendum in Westminster (Rex)

With the UK having voted to leave the EU in June 2016, Ms Sturgeon said that change was now “inevitable”.

While she added “the option of ‘no change’ is no longer available”, she insisted Scots could “still decide the nature of change”.

Ms Sturgeon stated: “Having Scotland’s referendum – at a time when the terms of Brexit are known – will give the Scottish people a choice about the kind of change we want.

“It must be a choice for all of us.”



She continued: “If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding – completely unilaterally – that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come what may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be.

“That should not be the decision of just one politician – not even the First Minister.

“By taking the steps I have set out today, I am ensuring that Scotland’s future will be decided not just by me or the Scottish Government.

“It will be decided by the people of Scotland.

“It will be Scotland’s choice. And I trust the people to make that choice.”


Professor James Mitchell of Edinburgh University said the chances of a Yes vote were higher than they were in 2014.

The co-director of the university’s Academy of Government said while he “would have put money on” the 2014 referendum resulting in a No vote, the result of the next one could not be predicted.

He said: “I was clear it would be a No vote (in 2014) but this time I couldn’t say.

“The chances of it being Yes are greater than ever before, but I don’t want to predict it.

“I would have put money on it last time being a No vote, this time there is no doubt in my mind that the possibility of independence is greater than ever before.”

The expert added: “Things are moving forward because of the hard Brexit.

“The people I know that were hostile (to independence) are not so hostile.

“We all know a number of individuals who were No supporters who have moved to Yes, I know nobody who has done it the other way round.”

The plan to hold a second referendum comes despite a poll showing that a “clear majority” of Scots are against having another referendum on independence before the Brexit negotiations are over.

The BMG survey for The Herald showed about four in 10 Scots support another vote on independence before Brexit happens.

The survey of Scots found that 41% supported independence, 44% opposed it, while 13% were unsure and 2% would not say.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes