Scottish Parliament votes for another independence referendum

Adam Bienkov
Nicola Sturgeon

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty


  • Scottish Parliament votes 69-59 in favour of a second independence referendum.
  • Green Party backs the SNP to get the referendum motion passed, despite opposition from all other parties.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May has already ruled out giving Scotland a referendum before Brexit is complete.
  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to set out next steps in April.

LONDON — The Scottish Parliament has this afternoon voted in favour of holding a second referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.

There were cheers in the house after MEPs voted 69-59 in favour of the referendum motion shortly after 5 p.m. (BST) on Tuesday. There were no abstentions.

May insisted last week that she would block a referendum before Brexit, saying that it "would not be fair" to the Scottish people to hold a new poll "without all the necessary information" on what Britain's final Brexit deal will look like.

The UK government reiterated this position shortly after today's vote took place, saying it would not be entering negotiations with the Scottish government over a second referendum before Brexit is completed. 

A government spokesperson said:"It would be unfair to the people of Scotland to ask them to make a crucial decision without the necessary information about our future relationship with Europe, or what an independent Scotland would look like."

Ruth Davidson

BBC

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opened proceedings by announcing that she will set out her government's plans for a second referendum after the upcoming Easter recess.

She said: "I hope the UK government will respect the will of this parliament.

"If it does so then I will enter into discussions in good faith with a willingness to compromise.

"However, if it chooses not to do so then I will return to the parliament following the Easter recess to set out the steps the Scottish government will take to progress the will of parliament."

The motion, which you can read in full below, calls for a second independence referendum to take place at some point between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

"That the parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and therefore mandates the Scottish government to take forward discussions with the UK government on the details of an order under section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 to ensure that the Scottish parliament can legislate for a referendum to be held that will give the people of Scotland a choice over the future direction and governance of their country at a time, and with a question and franchise, determined by the Scottish parliament, which would most appropriately be between the autumn of 2018, when there is clarity over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, and around the point at which the UK leaves the EU in spring 2019."

Nicola Sturgeon's pro-independence Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) doesn't enjoy a parliamentary majority but, as expected, was backed by members of the Scottish Green Party in order to pass the bill. Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat parties all voted against the motion.

The vote was originally scheduled to take place last week but the Parliament's presiding officer Ken Macintosh suspended proceedings following the terror attack in Westminster, London.

Macintosh said: "The fact our sister parliament had a serious incident is affecting this particular debate and it is affecting the contribution of members and it is for that reason that we are suspending the sitting."

He added: "I think to continue at the moment would not allow members to make their contributions in the manner they would wish to."

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that a failure to respect the wishes of the Scottish parliament would "shatter" trust between the two nations.

"If a majority in the Scottish Parliament endorses [a new referendum], the Prime Minister should be clear about this," Sturgeon said at her party's conference earlier this month.

"At that point a fair, legal, and agreed referendum — on a timescale that will allow Scotland an informed choice — ceases to be just my proposal, or that of the SNP. It becomes the will of the democratically elected Parliament of Scotland.

"To stand in defiance of that would be for the Prime Minister to shatter beyond repair any notion of the UK as a respectful partnership of equals."



MSPs debated the motion on Tuesday afternoon prior to the vote taking place. At one stage, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told Sturgeon to "sit down" during a heated exchange with the Scottish First Minister.

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