Scotland independence vote matter of when, not if, Sturgeon says

Photo: AP Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon told British PM Boris Johnson on Sunday that a second Scottish independence referendum is “a matter of when, not if,” after her party won its fourth straight parliamentary election, AP reported. Johnson has invited the leaders of the UK’s devolved nations for crisis talks on the union after the regional election results rolled in, saying the UK was “best served when we work together” and that the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should cooperate on plans to recover from the pandemic.

But Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, told Johnson in a call that while her immediate focus was on steering Scotland to recovery, a new referendum on Scotland’s breakup from the rest of the UK is inevitable. Sturgeon reiterated “her intention to ensure that the people of Scotland can choose our own future when the crisis is over, and made clear that the question of a referendum is now a matter of when — not if,” her office said. Earlier, she said she wouldn’t rule out legislation paving the way for a vote at the start of next year.

Final results of Thursday’s local elections showed that the SNP won 64 of the 129 seats in the Edinburgh-based Scottish Parliament. Although it fell one seat short of securing an overall majority, the parliament still had a pro-independence majority with the help of eight members of the Scottish Greens.

Sturgeon said the election results proved that a second independence vote for Scotland was “the will of the country” and that any London politician who stood in the way would be “picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.”

Johnson has the ultimate authority whether or not to permit another referendum on Scotland gaining independence. He wrote in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph that another referendum on Scotland would be “irresponsible and reckless” as Britain emerges from the pandemic. He has consistently argued that the issue was settled in a 2014 referendum where 55% of Scottish voters favored remaining part of the UK

But proponents of another vote say the situation has changed fundamentally because of the UK’s Brexit divorce from the European Union. They charge that Scotland was taken out of the EU against its will. In the 2016 Brexit referendum, 52% of UK voters backed leaving the EU, but 62% of Scots voted to remain.

 

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