Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Scotland seeks new independence vote before Brexit

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday (13 March) she will start the legal process for a second referendum on independence to be held before the UK leaves the EU.

She said Scots, who voted 60 percent in favour of remaining in the EU in the referendum last year, should be given a chance to choose between sticking with the UK after a "hard Brexit", or seeking a different path.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding, completely unilaterally, that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come-what-may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be," she said.

Sturgeon accused British prime minister Theresa May of "not [having] moved an inch" in response to her calls for a special deal on Brexit for Scotland.

"All of our efforts at compromise have been met with a brick wall of intransigence," Sturgeon said, claiming that May's government has been given every chance to compromise.

Sturgeon fought for having the UK remain in the single market, or sought an outcome that would at least allow Scotland to do so.

However, she remarked that any agreement seems unlikely.

Therefore, she said she would ask the Scottish parliament next week to request a so-called Section 30 order from Westminster - a legal clause that would grant permission for Scotland to hold a new independence referendum.

Sturgeon said she wants the vote to take place before Brexit is complete, sometime between the autumn 2018 and the spring of 2019.

'Creating division'

On Monday, Prime minister Theresa May accused Sturgeon of creating more "uncertainty and division".

"As we negotiate to leave the European Union, I want to negotiate an agreement that is going to work for the whole of the United Kingdom and that includes the Scottish people," May said.

She added that the "evidence is that the Scottish people, the majority of the Scottish people, do not want a second independence referendum".

Scottish voters rejected independence by 55 percent to 45 percent in a referendum in September 2014.

Sturgeon argues that Brexit gives a very different context to the whole issue of independence.

Timing

Sturgeon's announcement caught May by surprise, just as the UK prime minister is battling to keep her Tories in line to vote for the EU withdrawal bill, removing the House of Lords' amendments.

May's cabinet has also been caught off-guard by the timing of the vote proposed by Sturgeon.

However, May has not explicitly revealed so far whether she would block a second Scottish independence referendum. She would reportedly allow it, as long as it takes place after Brexit - after Scotland is also outside of the EU.

On the other hand, Sturgeon is keen on having the referendum before Brexit takes place to maximise the possibility of Scotland remaining or swiftly rejoining the bloc.

"It is just as important that we do not leave it [the referendum] too late to choose a different path in a timely way," the Scottish first minister said.

Sturgeon however did want to elaborate on what she would do if London blocked Scotland from holding a second referendum.

The European Commission again said on Monday that an independent Scotland would have to formally re-apply to become an EU member state.

UK parliament clears way for Brexit talks

UK MPs refuse to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and do not expect a "meaningful vote" at the end of the Brexit talks, as May gets ready to trigger Article 50.

May to Scotland: 'Now is not the time' for referendum

The UK prime minister did not rule out a new Scottish referendum, but disputes the timetable. The Scottish first minister responded by accusing London of trying to "undemocratically" block Scots from deciding their fate post-Brexit.

Scottish independence ignites Brexit debate

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon will start the process for an independence vote next week, while British prime minister Theresa May insists that Scotland will have to follow the UK out of the EU and the single market.

Analysis

May on mission impossible in Brussels

UK prime minister called on other EU leaders to "step forward together", but she has almost nothing to offer them except the threat of walking away.

EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks

The EU is "not confident, but hopeful" that the UK will achieve sufficient progress for 'stage 2' by December, as Britain's Brexit negotiator blames the slow pace of negotiations on the EU ahead of a crucial summit meeting.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks