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Scotland's Sturgeon warns of constitutional crisis over second independence vote

Scottish premier Nicola Sturgeon has warned the UK's constitutional structure would 'shatter beyond repair' if discussions are not held over a second independence vote. A former PM has outlined a 'third option.'

Speaking to her Scottish National Party (SNP) assembly in Aberdeen on Saturday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that a refusal by Prime Minister Theresa May and the Westminster government to discuss a second referendum on independence would "shatter beyond repair" the United Kingdom's constitutional structure.

Sturgeon expects to be authorized on Wednesday by the devolved Scottish parliament to seek terms for a new secession vote. She wants it to be held once Brexit terms are clear but before Britain leaves the European Union.

"To stand in defiance of (Scottish parliamentary authorization) would be for the prime minister to shatter beyond repair any notion of the UK as a respectful partnership of equals," Sturgeon said.

Earlier this week, May said that "now is not the time" for a new choice on independence. Sturgeon needs approval from the Westminster parliament for a referendum to be legally binding.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (L) and UK PM Theresa May.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

"(May) has time to think again and I hope she does. If her concern is timing then - within reason - I am happy to have that discussion," Sturgeon said. "If (May) shows the same condescension and inflexibility, the same tin ear, to other EU countries as she has to Scotland then the Brexit process will hit the rocks," Sturgeon said.

Brown's alternative

Speaking in his home town of Kirkcaldy, Fife, on Saturday, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the Scottish government to be given a range of new powers as a way of uniting the country after Britain leaves the European Union. 

"Let me send a message today - and I will fight, fight and fight without end for this in the weeks and months ahead - that from now on the debate on the future of Scotland will no longer be limited to two options," he said.

"We don't need to be imprisoned by one form of extremism - the Tories who would grab power from Brussels and make the UK an even more centralized state - and another form of extremism - a more hardline SNP who would take us out of the British single market, putting at risk many of the one million jobs linked to it," Brown went on.

Großbritanien Gordon Brown (picture alliance/dpa/W. Oliver)

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

"The third option, a patriotic Scottish way and free from the absolutism of the SNP and the do-nothing-ism of the (Conservatives) is now essential because post-Brexit realities make the status quo redundant and require us to break with the past," Brown said.

The new powers could include setting sales tax rates, signing international treaties and regulating the environment, employment and energy, Brown added.

He proposed the Bank of England become the Bank of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to "reinforce the fact that pound is for everyone."

jbh/jm (AP, Reuters)

Watch video 00:42

Sturgeon: Scots to decide Scotland's path

 

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