Scotland Continues to Seek Independence
Scottish lawmakers voted Tuesday to seek a new referendum on Independence, presenting the British government with a distraction as it prepares to trigger its EU exit aka Brexit.
The legislature voted 69-59 to ask the British government to sanction an Independence vote that would be held within the next 2 years.
Outside, Independence supporters bearing Scottish and EU flags broke into cheers and tears of joy as the news broke.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who asked lawmakers to authorize her to request the referendum, says Scots must be given the chance to vote on their future before Britain leaves the European Union. British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to launch the U.K’s two-year process of exiting the EU on Wednesday by triggering Article 50 of the bloc’s Key treaty.
“Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands,” Sturgeon told lawmakers before the vote.
Scottish voters rejected independence in a Y 2014 referendum that Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party called a once-in-a-generation vote. But Ms. Sturgeon says Brexit has changed the situation.
She says there should be a new vote on independence between Fall of Y 2018 and Spring of Y 2019, when details of Britain’s exit terms with the single currency bloc are clarified.
Ms. Sturgeon said that whatever the final terms, Brexit would mean “significant and profound” change for Scotland.
“That change should not be imposed upon us,” she said. “We should have the right to decide the nature of that change.”
May, whose government must approve the referendum for it to be legally binding, says the time is not right. She says all parts of the UK— England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, must pull together to get the best-possible deal with the EU.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson agreed, saying Tuesday that Scots do not want “the division and rancor of another referendum campaign.”
Sturgeon’s referendum call was backed by the governing Scottish nationalists and the Greens, and opposed by the Conservative and Labour parties.
It’s unclear what could break the stalemate between Edinburgh and London. British officials have indicated they would not agree to another independence referendum until Britain’s EU exit is over and done with, a process that could take longer than two years.
David Mundell, the British government’s Scotland minister, said the U.K. government would not be “entering into negotiations on whether there should be another independence referendum during the Brexit process.”
Ms. Sturgeon said after the vote that she would “seek sensible and constructive discussion” with the British government later this week.
“I hope the United Kingdom government will respect the view of parliament,” she said. “This is simply about giving people in Scotland a choice.”
Should that fail, Ms. Sturgeon promised to inform the parliament of next steps after its Easter break next month.