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Scottish leader presses for independence vote

December 13, 2019

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has promised to put wheels into motion for a fresh referendum on independence from the UK. Her call for a transfer of powers was swiftly dismissed by Downing Street.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech to the media
Image: picture-alliance/empics/J. Barlow

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday said her devolved government would publish a "detailed democratic case" for a transfer of power from London to allow a fresh independence referendum in Scotland.

Sturgeon said the strong showing for her party in the UK general election a day earlier underlined the need for Scotland to be given another chance to vote on the issue.

Read more:  Opinion: Boris wins, but the UK loses

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's pro-Brexit Conservative Party won a landslide victory on Thursday, clinching a clear majority nationwide. However, it lost seven of its 13 seats in Scotland.

"This is not about asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson or any other Westminster politician for permission," Sturgeon said on Friday after it emerged that her party had won in 48 of the 59 Scottish constituencies.

"It is an assertion of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future," she added.

Addressing Johnson directly, she said: "You as the leader of a defeated party in Scotland have no right to stand in the way."

Sturgeon has already secured support from the devolved Scottish Parliament to ask London to trigger powers for a second referendum under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998.

She has promised to submit the proposal before the end of the year and hold the so-called "indyref2" in 2020. However, Johnson has ruled out approving the request.

Hours after Sturgeon spoke, Johnson's office said there would be no new referendum and that the 2014 vote had to be respected.  

"The Prime Minister made clear how he remained opposed to a second independence referendum, standing with the majority of people in Scotland who do not want to return to division and uncertainty," a statement read.

Although a 2014 independence referendum had been deemed a once-in-a-generation event, things have since changed. At the time, a major argument against independence was that it would leave Scotland outside the European Union.

Britain voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%, but Scots voted by a large majority (62% to 38%) to remain part of the bloc — and now feel they are being pulled out of the bloc against their will.

England and Scotland passed the Acts of Union in 1707, having already shared the same monarch for more than a century, to become one kingdom with one parliament. A new Scottish parliament was established in 1999, giving Scotland devolved powers over matters such as education, health, agriculture and justice.

rc/msh (dpa, AP, EBU)

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