Friday

24th Mar 2017

Scotland readies referendum bill as back-up plan

The Scottish government will begin preparing legislation necessary for a new referendum on independence from the UK in case it is needed, first minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Holyrood parliament on Tuesday (6 September).

However, it would remain a back-up plan as negotiations are ongoing with the UK on how to exit the EU with maintaining the benefits of EU membership for Scotland.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“To ensure that all options are open to us, this programme for government makes clear that we will consult on a draft referendum bill, so that it is ready for immediate introduction if we conclude that independence is the best or only way to protect Scotland's interests,” Sturgeon said at the introduction of her government’s programme.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU in the June referendum, but the overall vote in the UK came out in favour of Brexit.

In the wake of the shock referendum result, an outraged Sturgeon told reporters it was “highly likely” that an independence vote would take place within two years.

The Scottish prime minister said at the time she would hold a second referendum on Scottish independence if she could not protect Scotland’s EU interests, such as free movement of people and access to the single market, within the UK framework.

Since June the independence furore has calmed down.

UK prime minister Theresa May travelled to Edinburgh in mid-July to calm nerves and pledge to include all of the UK, including Scotland in outlining a negotiating position with the EU.

The Scottish government’s programme confirms that Sturgeon will first seek to deal with the aftermath of the EU referendum through negotiations, but keeps the independence vote open.

Sturgeon’s government plans to publish a draft referendum bill for public consultation, “in order that it is ready for introduction” should the Scottish government conclude that it is the only way to protect Scottish interests.

“In the first instance, we will seek to positively influence the development of the UK government’s negotiating position ahead of Article 50 being triggered, to ensure that options for Scotland to maintain our relationship with Europe are developed and considered,” the government’s programme reads.

“However, if it appears that the best – or only – way to protect our interests is to consider afresh the question of independence, it is essential that such an option is available to the Scottish Parliament,” it says, explaining the need for the referendum bill.

Scottish MEP: 'Independence not our first option'

A Scottish split from the UK remains on the table, a prominent Scottish MEP has said, as British PM Theresa May heads to Scotland to calm nerves on post-brexit EU relations.

Scotland not giving up on EU membership

Scotland's EU spokesman has said the country is a special case that would not act as a precedent for places such as Catalonia or Corsica if it split from the UK to join the EU.

UK releases legal arguments on Article 50

In its recently released legal defence the UK government argues that neither the Westminster parliament, nor Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales has a say in when Britian will trigger the Brexit process.

Column / Brexit Briefing

What’s the price of failing to prepare?

Theresa May is the strongest and most vulnerable prime minister in living memory. That may seem like a contradiction in terms for a leader who, if not obviously likable, is seen as highly competent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  2. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  4. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  5. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  6. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  8. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  9. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  10. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. Poland and Greece talk tough before Rome summit
  2. Birthday wishes to the European Union
  3. MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay
  4. Hohe Cyber-Bedrohung für Frankreichs Wahlen
  5. 'No zero terror risk', EU security chief warns
  6. UN could step in where EU fails in child migrant protection
  7. May: London attacker was known to the police
  8. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU