Scottish First Minister calls for new independence referendum
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Scottish First Minister calls for new independence referendum

Credit: Flickr/Ronnie Macdonald

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on the UK government to “negotiate and agree” to hold a new independence referendum on Scotland’s membership in the UK.

“We are therefore today calling for the UK Government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence,” Sturgeon said at a press conference.

A 39-page report, published on Thursday on the Scottish Government’s official website, outlines the broad outlines of the plan. This comes after recent elections saw the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), led by Sturgeon, win 47 of the 59 constituencies available in the region in general elections last week.

According to the party leader, this victory at the ballot box gives her “unquestionably” a “mandate” to put in place a new referendum.

Sturgeon, however, has said she does not take a pro-independence result “for granted”.

“Nor do I assume that everyone who voted SNP last week necessarily supports independence,” she added. This scepticism is well based, as the result of the previous referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 saw 55% of Scots decide to remain in the UK.

Rally Cry

“Today I urge people in Scotland, regardless of our differing views on independence, to rally around the case for Scotland’s right to choose – our right to self-determination,” said Sturgeon.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already repeatedly stated his opposition to a new referendum, considering that such an event could only take place “once in a generation.”

It is this significant opposition which the SNP takes issue with, arguing that there is a right for Scotland to have another referendum following the Brexit vote, which saw 62% of Scotland vote to remain in the EU.

“It is for the Prime Minister to defend why he believes the UK is not a voluntary union of equal nations, “said Sturgeon. “It is for the Prime Minister to set out why he does not believe people in Scotland have the right to self-determination,” she added.

The next major step will come in the new year when Sturgeon says she will ask the Scottish Parliament to back the case for another vote.

Independence (but only in the case of Brexit)

This publication comes at an interesting time for the debate following a poll in Scotland which found increased support for independence – in the event of Brexit.

The survey, conducted for the Sunday Times between 3 and 6 December, showed that a majority of Scots (51%) would want independence should Britain leave the EU. However, should the British remain in the EU, 58% of Scots would vote against independence.

“Let us put Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands,” Sturgeon rounded off.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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