Scotland plans independence vote before Brexit
By Eric Maurice
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has presented a bill proposing that a referendum on Scotland's independence be held before the UK pulls out of the EU.
"A draft bill giving Scotland the ability to reconsider the question of independence before the UK leaves the EU has been published for consultation," a government statement said on Thursday (20 October).
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The question of the referendum will be: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
The government will decide later whether to table the bill in the Scottish parliament, depending on the progress of talks between London and Edinburgh, and between the UK and EU.
“My priority is clear – we will do everything we can to protect Scotland’s interests," Sturgeon said in the statement.
“The damage to jobs and Scotland’s economy that will be caused by Brexit – especially a hard Brexit - is now plain to see," she said, adding that her government "will continue to work UK wide to seek to avert a hard Brexit".
"If we find that our interests cannot be properly or fully protected within a UK context then independence must be one of the options open to us and the Scottish people must have the right to consider it," she added.
Sturgeon announced last week at the conference of her Scottish National Party (SNP) that she would present the bill.
She took the decision after British prime minister Theresa May implicitly accused her party and government of being "divisive nationalists" trying to "undermine" and "drive apart" the UK.
The referendum bill will be open to a public consultation until 11 January 2017.