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Scotland: Sturgeon hints at legal move to force 'indyref2'

November 30, 2020

The Scottish leader has refused to rule out legal action to force a Scottish independence referendum. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused a second vote on the issue after Scotland voted to stay in the UK in 2014.

Nicola Sturgeon
Image: Avalon/Photoshot/picture alliance

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday renewed her calls for a Scottish independence referendum, suggesting she might force the issue by taking the legal route if London tried to block it.

Sturgeon said she hopes to hold a referendum as early as next year, setting up a confrontation with a UK government that has stuck steadfastly to its mantra that the time has past after the Scottish people voted in favor of remaining a part of the union in 2014.

"We are seeing across the Atlantic, what happens to those who try to hold back the tide of democracy. They get swept away," Sturgeon said in her Scottish National Party (SNP) conference speech.

She added that she would campaign in the May 2021 Scottish Parliament election to hold a vote on independence "in the early part of the new parliament,'' which will run from 2021 to 2025.

The British government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson must give permission for any plebiscite. In remarks to BBC radio, Sturgeon declined to reject the possibility of going to court should the prime minister prevent another vote.

"The point about whether the Westminster Government has to agree to that [a Scottish independence referendum], that’s never been tested in court. I hope it never has to be tested in court but I don’t rule anything like that out," Sturgeon told BBC Radio Scotland on Monday morning.

Scotland voted to remain a part of the UK by a margin of 55%-45% in a 2014 independence referendum that was billed as a once-in-a-generation event.

British government stands firm

The UK government has consistently rejected the possibility of a second vote. That stance was repeated on Monday as Johnson's spokesman Jamie Davies said: "The people of Scotland had a vote on this, and they voted to remain part of the United Kingdom."

But Sturgeon's SNP, which leads the government in Edinburgh, says Brexit has altered the political landscape sufficiently to hold a so-called "indyref2" as Scotland is being hauled out of the European Union against its will. A narrow majority of UK voters, 52%, opted to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum, but a large majority in Scotland, 68%, voted to remain a part of the bloc.

Recent opinion polls have suggested a surge of support for independence from the UK, with Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic boosting support for Scotland going it alone.

Brexit divides Scotland

jsi/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)