The Scottish Parliament voted earlier this week to call for a second referendum on independence before the UK completes the process of leaving the EU. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said such a referendum is necessary to allow Scotland to decide its own path ahead of Brexit. However, the UK government, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, has said it would block a referendum until after Brexit – currently projected to complete in 2019. May and Sturgeon met in Glasgow on Monday, with May asserting that “now is not the time” to put Scottish independence back on the table.
David Mundell, Scotland’s secretary of state, supporting May, has said a timeline should include “the Brexit process, the journey of leaving and people being able to understand what the UK’s new relationship with the EU is, so they can make an informed choice if there was ever to be another referendum.”
Sturgeon, however, has said blocking a referendum before Brexit would be “democratically indefensible and utterly unsustainable.”
Scottish voters opted to remain in the UK 55 percent to 45 percent in 2014, but in last year’s Brexit referendum, 62 percent of Scottish voters opted to stay in the EU.
“My argument is simply this: when the nature of the change that is made inevitable by Brexit becomes clear, that change should not be imposed upon us, we should have the right to decide the nature of that change. The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit – possibly a very hard Brexit – or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands.”
The matter faced two days of debate in Scotland’s parliament last week, which was suspended after the terror attack at Westminster.
Sturgeon is expected to formally request the referendum this week, after May officially triggered the Article 50 Brexit process on Wednesday.
“I hope the UK government will respect the will of this parliament. If it does so, I will enter discussion in good faith and with a willingness to compromise. However, if it chooses not to do so I will return to the parliament following the Easter recess to set out the steps that the Scottish government will take to progress the will of parliament.”