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Boris Johnson rejects call for Scottish independence

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally rejected the Scottish government’s request for a new referendum on independence to be held by the majority nation opposed to Brexit.

In a letter to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, also leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Johnson said the previous referendum on the issue, held in 2014, was a vote that came “only once in a generation” – commenting that the phrase was part of a “personal promise” made by Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond.

In that first referendum, 55% of Scots voted to stay within the United Kingdom.

“The British Government will continue to respect the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise you have made to them” to respect it, he wrote in the letter. “That is why I cannot accept a transfer of power (to local government) to hold a future referendum on independence.”

Nicola Sturgeon had officially requested in December that a new election on the region’s independence be held in 2020, as she felt that the imminent Brexit had completely changed the situation.

Scotland had voted 62% against the Brexit in 2016, but the province will be forced to leave the European Union on 31 January, like the rest of the UK.


“This reaction was predictable, but it is also untenable and self-destructive,” Sturgeon reacted in a statement, accusing the ruling Conservatives of being “terrified of Scotland’s right to choose”. “They know that if we are given a choice, we will choose independence,” she said, saying that Boris Johnson’s party had “no positive argument” for keeping Scotland within the UK.

The Scottish Government “will set out our response and next steps before the end of this month” added Sturgeon. They will then ask the Scottish Parliament “to back Scotland’s right to choose our own future,” she added.

A poll, held in December 2019 in Scotland, saw 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.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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