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Sturgeon unveils road map for independence vote

June 28, 2022

The leader of Scotland's government said Scotland was "ripped" out of the EU as she outlined a possible route to Scottish independence, including a referendum late next year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking during an event in Edinburgh to outline Scottish independence plans
Sturgeon says that after most Scots voted against Brexit, they should have another say on staying in the UKImage: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/empics/picture alliance

Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on Tuesday announced plans for a new vote to take the country out of the United Kingdom.

In the wake of Brexit, Sturgeon, who is leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), said it was time to lead Scotland back into the European Union as an independent country.

Sturgeon said she wanted people in Scotland to vote on independence on October 19, 2023.

"Scotland over generations has paid a price for not being independent. Westminster governments we don't vote for, imposing policies we don't support, too often holding us back from fulfilling our potential," Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.

"The conservatives have just six MPs in Scotland, barely 10% of Scottish representation, and yet they have ripped us out of the EU against our will," Sturgeon said.

She said the nation's devolved parliament could move ahead with a new independence referendum without the consent of the British government.

British government to 'carefully study' proposal

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party, which is in opposition in Scotland, oppose any such vote. They say the question was settled in 2014, when the Scottish electorate voted by 55% to 45% to stay in the UK.

"Our position remains unchanged: Both (the British government's) and the Scottish government's priority should be working together with a relentless focus on the issues that we know matter to people up and down the country," Johnson's spokesman told reporters.

"A decision has been taken by the first minister so we will carefully study the details of the proposal and the Supreme Court will now consider whether to accept the Scottish government's Lord Advocate's referral," the spokesman added.

A change in political reality?

Sturgeon said Brexit meant that the political landscape has changed so significantly that a new vote is needed. Some 62% of Scots were opposed to Britain leaving the EU in the UK's 2016 plebiscite.

A strong critic of both Johnson and Brexit, Sturgeon said Scotland and its population of about 5.5 million were being held back.

According to law, the UK government in London must first agree to a referendum. To do so it would have to issue a so-called section 30 order.

In a speech earlier this month, Sturgeon said she would press ahead regardless.

Scotch whisky producers worried about leaving UK

"If we are to uphold democracy here in Scotland, we must forge a way forward, if necessary without a section 30 order. ... However, we must do so in a lawful manner," she said.

Scotland and England merged in a political union in 1707, formally creating the Kingdom of Great Britain with a unified parliament in London. They had until then been separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch.

rc, kb/wd (Reuters, AFP)

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